Since its inception in 1948, the NHS has amassed the biggest, richest, collection of patient data in the world.  Responsibility of “ownership” of this vast body of data currently lies with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.  Westminster Health Forum keynote seminar on 13th September 2018 titled ‘Patient records and data in the NHS: data integrity, analytics and improving care’ will help facilitate a ‘conversation’ on when and how patients can own their health records.


As noted by Professor Maureen Baker, Chair of the Professional Record Standards Body, the digital ecosystem should facilitate that:

Currently, primary and secondary care services are operating on different systems that are not joined up.  Many services have stand alone systems, which means that patient data is being stored in multiple places.  This considerably impacts on the efficiency of the service, for both health and care professionals and patients.   As citizens, we expect that the information that we need to be provided for us to receive the right care will be easily accessible and in the right format.

NHS Digital are committed to the interoperability of systems, with standards an essential, integral part of the fundamental reforms.  Systems must ensure that information entered at point A in one context will be understood when someone takes it out of the system at point B. 


Integrity and security of data is a key concern for health and care professionals.  As highlighted by Indi Singh, Head of Architecture and Cyber Security at NHS England, there needs to be a “cultural movement across every single level of the organization.”  

Ian MacIntyre, Head of Digital at the NHS Leadership Academy, believes this can be achieved by:

He recently spent time on a hospital ward, where he was able to demonstrate to a member of the nursing staff how technology could reduce the administration requirements, allowing more time to engage with patients. 

Mr MacIntyre is concerned that the NHS “suffer from a lack of vision with regard to technology.”  In his view, the NHS need to get better at valuing the skills of its staff and work towards establishing a more inclusive environment, so that innovations can benefit from their expertise. 


The following are examples of some of the solutions currently being deployed. Health and care professionals would benefit from access to information about these initiatives for shared learning, feedback and enhancing the skills of health teams.  It would provide a form of crowd sourcing of ideas and feedback from staff on the ground, in particular from those with extensive experience.

Examples of Interoperability in the NHS



Patient data remains essential for medical research and innovation.  Pharmaceutical companies rely on ‘Real World Evidence’ for a variety of reasons.  As Alex Ide, Senior Principal, Head of Real World Insights at IQVIA pointed out:

Mr Ide highlights how insights from patient data is used to facilitate earlier diagnosis of patients with rare diseases. 


Dr Paul Rice, Head of Technology Strategy at NHS England reflected on the future of a digitally enabled NHS, citing the need to “close the loop on transitional research to create faster adoption of new innovations for patients.”

Grass-roots movements are already demonstrating the benefits of digital innovations to both health and care professionals and patients.  It is likely that future ‘secure by design’ innovations in IoT will facilitate the evolution of interoperable, efficient systems to support this vision.


More on IoT secure by design available here:

For more on digital innovations in the NHS, visit the NHS Digital website here: