NHSX is a United Kingdom Government unit with responsibility for setting national policy and developing best practice for National Health Service (NHS) technology, digital and data, including data sharing and transparency.
It was established in early 2019 by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, to bring together information technology teams from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, and NHS Improvement. NHSX will work closely with the Government Digital Service and other relevant government functions. It is led by Matthew Gould. The 'X' in NHSX stands for "user experience".
In May 2019, Hancock announced plans to upgrade all hospitals, GP practices and community care services to full fibre connectivity, which is intended to enable more video consultations and improve the speed of access to clinical information.
In a speech delivered on 12 June 2019, Baroness Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, identified three delivery priorities for NHSX, which are "focused on how we can make things better for patients and staff as soon as possible". These priorities are:
- cutting the amount of time that clinicians spend inputting and accessing data in NHS systems
- making it easier for patients to access key NHS services on a smartphone
- ensuring that essential diagnostic information can be accessed safely and reliably, from wherever a patient may be within the NHS.
Underlying these delivery priorities, she also noted that the technical priority for NHSX is the creation of a data-driven ecosystem. It was announced in January 2020 that £40 million was to be dedicated to improving login times for staff, using single sign-on technology.
One of the functions of the organisation is to manage the sharing of NHS patient data with industry.
COVID-19 contact tracking app
In March 2020, NHSX commissioned a contact tracking app to monitor the spread of COVID-19, developed by the Pivotal division of American software company VMware. The first public trial of the app began on the Isle of Wight on 5 May 2020.
The app stores anonymised data in a central database, in contrast to the decentralised Google / Apple contact tracing project. In early May, NHSX contracted for development of a second app using the Google / Apple method.
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