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Health information technology can support the development of national learning health and care systems, which can be defined as health and care systems that continuously use data-enabled infrastructure to support policy and planning, public health, and personalisation of care. The COVID-19 pandemic has offered an opportunity to assess how well equipped the UK is to leverage health information technology and apply the principles of a national learning health and care system in response to a major public health shock. With the experience acquired during the pandemic, each country within the UK should now re-evaluate their digital health and care strategies. After leaving the EU, UK countries now need to decide to what extent they wish to engage with European efforts to promote interoperability between electronic health records. Major priorities for strengthening health information technology in the UK include achieving the optimal balance between top-down and bottom-up implementation, improving usability and interoperability, developing capacity for handling, processing, and analysing data, addressing privacy and security concerns, and encouraging digital inclusivity. Current and future opportunities include integrating electronic health records across health and care providers, investing in health data science research, generating real-world data, developing artificial intelligence and robotics, and facilitating public-private partnerships. Many ethical challenges and unintended consequences of implementation of health information technology exist. To address these, there is a need to develop regulatory frameworks for the development, management, and procurement of artificial intelligence and health information technology systems, create public-private partnerships, and ethically and safely apply artificial intelligence in the National Health Service.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/S2589-7500(21)00005-4

Type

Journal article

Journal

Lancet Digit Health

Publication Date

06/05/2021