During a speech at the NHS England conference, Matt Hancock called on the NHS to give up pen and paper and adopt digital communication which is cheaper and more secure. Instead of paper and fax machines, the Health and Social Care Secretary is urging email to be used instead.
Matt Hancock has outlined an ambition where healthcare staff email patients directly. This can not only help to boost cybersecurity but can also cut wastage and reduce unnecessary appointment delays. Furthermore, the NHS organisations will be able to choose the email provider and not have to rely on NHSMail. NHS groups are able to select the best service for their needs, providing it meets the necessary security requirements.
Digital communication comes as part of the tech vision introduced by Matt Hancock. He urges the NHS to adopt innovative technologies that can help to benefit both staff and patients. Soon, all NHS IT systems will have clear open standards. This will enable systems to talk across organisations and ensure regular upgrading.
Systems that cannot meet the standards will have to be phased out, and contracts with providers ended.
Fax machine ban
The speech at the NHS England conferences comes after Matt Hancock introduced a fax machine ban. As a result, fax machines need to be removed from the NHS and trusts are no longer able to buy new fax machines. Currently, there are over 8,000 fax machines in NHS trusts.
During the speech, Matt Hancock said; “There is no reason why a doctor cannot email a patient confidentially, for example with their test results or prescription, rather than make them wait days for a letter or ask them to come into the surgery. The rest of the world runs on email – and the NHS should too.”