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NHS England launches digital maturity self-assessment guidance

NHS England is to begin gathering baseline data on providers’ technological capabilities for a digital maturity index. The digital maturity index will give a national picture of how far the NHS has come on its mission to make effective and meaningful use of technology and highlight areas for improvement.

The digital maturity self-assessment guidance sets out the purpose and objectives for the self-assessment, provides an overview of its structure and the online tool that will support the process, and details how it will work in practice.

Throughout November, Chief Executives of health and care provider organisations will each receive a formal invitation to provide this information and more details about how to access the online tool. The assessment should be completed and returned by 15 January 2016.

NHS England’s Director for Digital Technology, Beverley Bryant, says: “Moving away from paper-based records and processes isn’t just about meeting targets, saving trees or cutting costs. Online patient records and clinical systems open up a world in which health and social care services are joined up, safer and more sustainable. “The digital maturity self-assessment is the perfect opportunity for providers to shine a light on any obstacles they are facing in modernising services and make the case for additional support to move past these challenges.”

NHS England has been working in collaboration with Leeds University, UCL Partners and 35 other organisations to develop the new digital maturity self-assessment tool, which has been piloted by eight providers. The tool focuses on meaningful use of technology and will ask Trusts to evaluate their state of readiness, capabilities and enabling infrastructure to operate paper-free at the point of care.

It is expected that the first iteration of the digital maturity index will be published by March 2016. Going forward, it will become part of the CQC inspection regime and NHS Improvement will play a key role in supporting providers to make progress.

To maximise the NHS’s chances of achieving its ambition to eradicate use of paper in the treatment of patients across all health and care services by 2020, local health and care organisations are required to begin work now. Clinical commissioning groups, working with local authority partners and providers of care must submit delivery plans by April 2016 for how they will switch to online clinical systems in their area by 2020.

The digital maturity index will help local clinical commissioning groups to assess how close they are to meeting this challenge and enable them to allocate resources effectively.