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Government plans 'NHS information revolution'

Online tools for patients

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Patients will use the web to report their experiences, rate NHS organisations and access their records, according to health secretary's white paper.

Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS says that a range of online tools will be created for patients, allowing them to access services "much more efficiently at a time and place that is convenient for patients and carers".

"Information generated by patients themselves will be critical to this process, and will include much wider use of effective tools like patient reported outcomes measures (Proms), patient experience data and real-time feedback," says the document, published by health secretary Andrew Lansley on 12 July 2010.

"At present Proms and other outcome measures, patient experience surveys and national clinical audit are not used widely enough. We will expand their validity, collection and use."

The paper also reveals plans to allow patients to rate services and clinical departments according to the quality of care they receive, as well as making available staff feedback on the quality of patient care.

The government also said it wants to give patients more control of their health records, starting with access to records held by GPs and over time extending access to information held by all providers. The DoH will consult on data security issues around allowing greater patient access to information later this year.

"We will make it simple for a patient to download their record and pass it, in a standard format, to any organisation of their choice," adds the paper.

Aggregated data will also be made available online in standard formats to allow intermediaries to analyse and present it to patients in an understandable way, says the document. In addition to NHS Choices, a range of third parties will be encouraged by the government to provide information to support patient choices.

Major reforms outlined in the white paper include the abolition of primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities by 2013. PCTs' commissioning powers will move to a newly created NHS Commissioning Board and consortia of GPs.

Local authorities will also gain greater powers and will take on the function of joining up the commissioning of local NHS services, social care and health improvement.

The document says there will be cuts to centrally managed programmes, such as consultancy services and advertising spending, "as a further measure to support frontline services", but does not specify an exact figure.

Of the reforms, Lansley said: "With patients empowered to share in decisions about their care, with professionals free to tailor services around their patients and with a relentless focus on continuously improving results, I am confident that together we can deliver the efficiency and the improvement in quality that is required to make the NHS a world class service."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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