09 September 2016

PRSB welcomes the Wachter Review


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Lorraine Foley


PRSB welcomes the Wachter Review

This week Professor Bob Wachter issued his long-awaited and much-trailed report Making IT Work on harnessing the power of digital technologies to improve health
and social care. It makes for inspiring reading, and also sets out important conditions the health and care system must meet if we are to realise the real
benefits of digitally enabled information sharing.

At the heart of this is agreeing common national standards to allow information to be shared freely between organisations, professionals
and patients.

This is our purpose at the PRSB - to set evidence and consensus-based standards for health and care records that will enable interoperability. We are uniquely placed as a membership organisation comprised of all the clinical and professional colleges and member organisations as well as patient representative groups (with support from suppliers and technology developers) to do this work. We welcome Bob Wachter's recognition of the importance of this work and support for it as an essential building block for the digital future.

For those of us who have been championing better use of information to make care better, safer and more efficient his recommendations are hugely welcome. And the Health Secretary's plans to back them with funding to drive the needed technology and behaviour changes is essential.

The changes digital technologies will make possible in health and social care are enormous and we are only at the beginning of a journey that demands fundamental changes in systems, the way information is created, organised and stored but most importantly the behaviours of all those who give or receive care.

They demand that we win the hearts and minds of the many and diverse clinical and professional communities who create and use health and care records every day - and importantly that includes patients and carers who will create and access their own information so they can take more control of their own health and care.

We endorse Wachter's recommendations and agree that the changes needed are so substantial that they require a thoughtful long-term engagement strategy, a workforce of trained clinicians and information specialists able to lead these changes with authority and the necessary resources to embed new systems and ways of working, and a commitment at all levels to stay the course, because, as we know, grassroots change takes a long time to embed.

Standards are of no value unless they are implemented nationally and locally. The PRSB recognises that engagement for implementation is key and we are mobilising our member organisations to inspire their memberships about the huge potential to modernise health and care through digitising information.

If we speak with one voice and promote the adoption of standards, we will succeed in laying the foundations for this exciting vision of a digital future for health and social care.

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