Going digital in a global pandemic

“As society continues to battle the pandemic, the NHS and social care services have risen to the challenge. While digital transformation has been an ongoing ambition for the health and care system for more than a decade, the past year has been the catalyst for acceleration.

Success in numbers

Covid lessons learnt report: Input from 100 stakeholders

  • The PRSB community pharmacy standard successfully supports the COVID-19 vaccine rollout with over 81% of the UK population now double vaccinated. 81% 81%

More than 2000 responses to our palliative/end of life care project

New from PRSB this year

The work and role of PRSB is more valued than ever before. This has been reflected in our growth and development, which went from strength to strength in 2020. Discover this year's achievements and highlights in the boxes below.

Social care standards

Support information sharing between health and social care in a range of care settings.

Standards Partnership Scheme

Supporting digital software suppliers to successfully implement PRSB standards.

Lessons learnt from Covid

Reporting on the rapid uptake of digital care during the initial stages of the pandemic.

Establishing the People Network

The experiences of people are integral to our work, and we could not develop standards without them.

Supporting NHSX’s strategy

 Conducting a wide-ranging and intensive consultation to inform NHSX’s strategy for standards adoption and interoperability across the health and care system,

Community pharmacy standard

Building on the existing pharmacy standard to include the Covid-19 vaccination programme and the growing services offered by community pharamicies.

Personalised care planning

Working with professionals and people who use services to update our care planning standard and support improved community mental health care.

Shared decision making standard

Improving relationships between professionals and people using services and ensuring people are more involved in decisions about their care and health.

Pathology test results

More than 1 billion test results are reported across the NHS each year, making pathology reporting a crucial part of the health and care system. 

Standards Sponsorship Board

Establishing a clear programme and process for making standards a foundational part of the digital transformation in England.

Care Quality Commission

Working with the CQC to reference PRSB standards in its regulatory framework to drive adoption at scale and with pace. 

Making standards accessible

Supporting organisations to implement PRSB standards by making them accessible and understandable. 

“Working for the 111 service during the first wave I witnessed the benefits of 'digital first' care. A new way of working that will continue after the pandemic.”

Prof. Maureen Baker, Chair of PRSB

Coming up in 2021/22

As NHS and social care services continue to navigate the post-Covid world, we will continue to advocate the use of standards across the UK, working closely with vendors, professionals, and people using services to make it a reality.

Diabetes standard

According to the latest NHS data, diabetes is expected to impact 4.2 million people (9% of the population) by 2030. The condition can cause a wide range of complications and is considered the largest contributor to healthcare cost and reduced life expectancy in Europe.  With the right treatment and personalised care, people can live a healthy life with fewer risks of complications.

Joined up services are essential to making this a reality, which is why the PRSB has been commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement to produce standards for sharing diabetes information between people and professionals across all care settings. This will include the information that should form a care record for people living with diabetes so that the key information for their care is available to any authorised professional working in any care setting. 

We will also look at self-reported data from the increasing number of digital tools available for self-management and medical technology (e.g., glucose monitors) and produce a standard to support remote patient monitoring. The completed standards will be delivered in 2022 

Assuring the safety and quality of care that uses digital technologies

Thousands of digital technologies and apps are used to support people’s health and wellbeing and the use of technology has only accelerated during the pandemic, with more remote monitoring and online services multiplying almost daily to meet people’s needs. But how can people feel confident that digital technologies support high quality care and how can professionals advise on their safe use? NHSX has recently published its Digital Technologies Assessment Criteria (DTAC).

Those developing a digital technology will now be able to undergo assessment against the criteria set by NHSX following wide consultation and collaboration. 

The NHSX team responsible for the assessment process asked PRSB’s members to give feedback on the DTAC process and its usefulness. They presented to a specially convened group of Advisory Board representatives from 36 organisations.   

Although PRSB is pleased with the progress that has been made to make digital technologies meet high quality and safety thresholds, there is still much more to do. This is a critically important area and we are looking forward to supporting the NHS with future digital technology assessment initiatives. 

What people are saying

“We need to make the process of adoption of these standards attractive, enjoyable, and as easy as possible” 
Charlie McCay (PRSB)

“From our engagement with citizens in Scotland, individuals do want to know that services and tools they are using are safe, assured, and suitable for them, but it is a complex theme, and we need to take health literacy and digital literacy in consideration, as well as the intersections between them. Using a digital tool often requires a large degree of interaction so we do need to focus on citizen empowerment as well as ensuring tools are safe, and people should be helped to make their own judgements too. 
Carmen Paputa-Dutu (Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland)

111 referral services

In 2018, the PRSB produced a report on urgent care information flows which set out the high-level requirements for a referral from a 111 clinical assessment service to another service.  

Currently a 111 report (or Post Event Message) can flow to the receiving organisation using an older technical messaging system – the Interoperability Tool Kit (ITK). Also, the current report does not organise the information in a way that clinicians find easy to use. A newer interoperability standard known as FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource) is now being adopted by many clinical IT systems which offers potential for an improved message sharing capability including urgent and emergency care systems. 

The PRSB has been asked to develop a standard for all 111 referrals that will replace the current 111 report with clear, succinct, and effective information to inform the receiver. This information can be shared with the service that the individual needs after a 111 consultation. It will also inform the GP that a person has had contact with the 111 service.  

End of life care

Making decisions about end-of-life care are often challenging and difficult for people and their families. Increasingly people want to communicate their wishes and needs before they become too ill or unable to express themselves. Once people have made it known how they wish to be cared for, it is important that the professionals involved in delivering their care have access to this information to ensure the person’s wishes are met and needs addressed as much as possible. Safe and personalised care at the end of life not only makes the person feel more comfortable and in control, but it can also bring some comfort to the bereaved family to know their loved one’s final wishes and needs were met. 

PRSB was commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement to refresh the standard for Electronic Palliative Care Co-ordination Systems (EPaCCs) so that emergency or palliative and end-of-life care information is accessible and supports people across all care provider settings.  PRSB worked in collaboration with the charity Compassion in Dying and surveyed 1,700 people about their experiences of sharing information for palliative or end-of-life care. Respondents powerfully shared their views about how people’s needs should be better understood and met. We also collaborated with Together for Short Lives, a charity for children and young people living with life-limiting conditions, and their families to learn from their experiences and use this information to inform the revised standard.  We are consulting further on the draft standard and are due to complete our findings and recommendations shortly. 

Getting end of life care right – PRSB Podcast

Campaigner and former carer Roberta Lovick joins the PRSB podcast with Compassion in Dying nurse Sarah Malik, to talk about their own experiences with end of life care. As well as discussing the difficulties of opening these conversations to begin with, they talk about the challenges of what happens when conversations don’t happen, or information isn’t communicated correctly.

Growing PRSB’s clinical networks

PRSB is admired for its strong clinical and professional networks and growing network of people with lived experience of health and care services.  

This year we set up new groups on social media for clinicians interested in digital standards for clinical records. The group is being used to engage with clinicians, connect with implementers and raise awareness of published standards and others in the pipeline. We are also using these groups to promote clinical leadership role for our upcoming projects.  

 A dedicated WhatsApp group for clinicians and professionals kicked off in April and LinkedIn pages and PRSB web pages are being planned to showcase leadership opportunities, update clinicians on how standards are benefitting people receiving care and the teams providing care and raising awareness of workshops and other ways to participate in PRSB activities. 

Nursing standard

As the largest workforce in health and care, nurses provide crucial care across a wide range of settings, with patients and other professionals often reliant on their expertise. The PRSB will be working with NHSX to develop a new nursing standard for use across all the different health and social care settings. The standard will aim to improve quality and safety of care in key nurse-led areas, including care planning. It will reflect best practice and standardise documentation across different nursing settings, to free nurses’ time and give them more time to care. For example, the standard will allow a district nurse in a care home setting to access and share people’s information between care providers in the same way as a practice nurse or hospital nurse, creating joined-up records and supporting personalised care.  

Whilst the emphasis is on nurse-led care, we will also speak to other professionals and people who use services to build consensus and support for the standards.

Social prescribing

A holistic approach to health and care can help people to live well, especially when they have long-term conditions or personal difficulties which impact their health. Social prescribing aims to connect people to local services, navigating routes to financial assistance or help losing weight. Link workers are key to delivering this service through the voluntary sector or primary care networks.  

It is a relatively new part of the health and care system’s vision for personalised care, and PRSB have been commissioned by NHS England and NHS improvement to develop an information standard for social prescribing. The standard will help ensure information can be shared to identify people who would benefit from social prescribing and support their overall wellbeing. It will also help health and care services to evaluate and improve social prescribing as it develops.

Updating transfer of care standards

Sharing accurate and complete information quickly when a person is discharged from hospital to GP or community services ensures continuity of care and reduces the risk of re-admission. The eDischarge summary standard enables hospitals to safely transfer standardised clinical information that, when combined with structured, coded data (SNOMED CT and dm+d), can be imported directly into GP IT systems when a person is discharged from hospital care.  

The standard allows all relevant information on diagnoses, medications, procedures and allergies about a person to be shared with GPs in order to improve the quality and consistency of care. Best practice is also to share the discharge summary with the person. 

The PRSB, as part of its maintenance process for standards, has completed updates to four transfer of care standards including the eDischarge standard, originally produced in 2016. The latest version of the eDischarge summary standard (v3.0), published in summer 2021, has been aligned with more recent PRSB professional standards such as the Core information standard along  with latest developments in national, technical standards such as FHIR profiles, the NHS Data Dictionary and SNOMED CT terminology. The other transfer of care standards that have been updated include the emergency care discharge standard, the mental health inpatient discharge standard, and the outpatient letter standard. 


Financial statements and accounts

The PRSB financial statement for 2021

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The Professional Record Standards Body
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