Prof. Maureen Baker CBE, Chair of PRSB

As a GP I know that clinical engagement is vital if we are going to see successful digital change. Over the past year the PRSB has worked hard to continue building relationships with health and care professionals, as well as patients and carers from across the UK. That engagement is a core part of our philosophy, and the driving force behind every standard and project we have produced this year. 

Involving people is key to our success

Without the involvement of clinical and care professionals, as well as citizens, we wouldn’t be able to produce standards that work in practice. In terms of patient engagement, we’ve recruited two new citizen representatives to the assurance committee, and have launched regular social media chats where we engage with patients on a wider basis. We’ve also welcomed Dr Afzal Chaudhry as vice-chair of our board, who has been leading the way in digital innovation at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Growing our membership

Since last year we have grown our membership, further expanding our base of representatives to include dieticians, ophthalmologists, representatives of people who use health and social care services in Scotland, and public health bodies among others. This expanded representation means we can expect to hear opinions from an even wider range of patient and carer representatives and care professionals than ever before, which will only further enhance the quality of the standards and assurance we produce. We had record numbers of workshop attendees and our surveys were a noteworthy success with more than 1,000 contributing to the core information standard. We are proud to be building such a strong voice to champion information sharing in health and care, which increases the power behind this organisation.

For us to reach these professionals, awareness raising has been an important part of our work in the past year. In 2018/19 we strengthened our partnership with Digital Health Intelligence, with a view to increasing the adoption of standards across health and social care services. We became an official event partner for the hugely successful new Digital Health Rewired leadership event, and the brand’s popular annual summer schools. We’ve also engaged in numerous speaking events, where we have promoted the ways in which standards will help to boost safety across health and care, by ensuring information is quickly and easily accessible.

In October last year, I engaged GPs at the RCGP conference about work PRSB was undertaking for the departments for health and social care and work and pensions. The project looked at how greater recording of employment status could improve health and wellbeing, and whether it would be appropriate for patients to have discussions about their work status with clinicians. We then engaged GPs in a workshop about the benefits and challenges of discussing people’s employment status and recording it in a patient record.

Reaching out to a wider audience

Awareness raising on social media grew by more than 50 percent and more people visited our website than the previous year. We worked with partners to extend our reach further. For example, we are proud to have developed and promoted a series of animations on the benefits to health, care, research and planning of better information sharing. The project was led by the Wellcome Trust’s Understanding Patient Data programme and reached an impressive audience of more than 1.5 million. 

Plans are afoot to launch new ways to engage our audiences and learn about their experiences with technology, including an online consultation for doctors in partnership with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, called the DoctorsDownload. We aim to use the findings from this consultation to drive improvements at a national and local level as well as through the colleges, to get a real sense of what digital changes are needed and how these need to be implemented.

Implementing our standards

In addition to supporting the development of standards, we need professionals to be actively engaged with their delivery in practice. In the coming year we will strive to work more closely with system vendors and we will produce clinical implementation tools, case studies, and guidance related to specific standards and how to integrate them into clinical practice. It’s vital to us that we not only produce standards, but also ensure that these can be used in action to see real results.