The pandemic has highlighted that here in the UK as elsewhere we have struggled to provide data in near real-time in order to act swiftly and get ahead of the virus. The recent WHO SCORE report estimated that while 60% of the participating countries have systems to review progress and performance of their health sector, only half have the capacity to monitor quality of care, and a third have the capacity for a national digital health strategy based on recommended standards.

The UK government has responded to the challenge by rapidly creating a single place to gather and analyse data and feed it back across the health and care system to manage the pandemic in real time. But the pandemic experience reinforces the need for more robust data and standards to improve direct care, and support planning and research.  Our latest report, Health and Care and Covid 19, confirmed that view. We interviewed Academy and other PRSB members and stakeholders to learn from their experience of digital transformation during the pandemic. A key recommendation  included streamlining data collections so that they reduce burden on clinicians by maximising the use of data for direct care to feed secondary uses. This is now being addressed by NHSX.

For the past five years, the PRSB has been developing standards and guidance for the content of health and care records to support the collection and sharing of high-quality data. Where standards have been adopted, we’re already seeing positive benefits, including increased efficiency for professionals and better personalised care. But adoption of standards and sharing information between systems remains a huge challenge in health and care that needs to be addressed urgently.

That’s one of the reasons that PRSB has introduced a new Standards Partnership Scheme, to visibly recognise and support vendors across the UK that are implementing professionally endorsed record standards. The scheme offers a targeted, practical support programme for partners that includes tailored workshops, briefings and guidance, as well as networking opportunities for Partners to contribute and influence standards development and priority setting. Focusing on co-production and learning, we feel it’s crucial vendors have access to the skills and expertise they need from clinical and social care professionals, to ensure they can deliver the integrated system we need to support better care.

We’ll also be offering organisations the chance to become Quality Partners, so they can demonstrate they are compliant with standards and demonstrate organisational best practice. To encourage this we’ll set an achievable bar for conformance with standards that is safe and delivers clinical value, recognising that best practice may take a little longer.  The bar will move upwards over time as the system matures and we all learn.

Later this spring we’ll be expanding the partnership scheme to work with NHS and social care providers to help them adopt standards for the content of care records that will complement the vendor offer we have just introduced.

In addition to this, we’re continually promoting best practice in standards implementation, and sharing the experiences and challenges of the organisations who are working hard to make these much-needed changes a reality. We’ve also championed development of standards that will help to support personalised care for individuals. For example, we’re currently consulting on a standard for shared decision making, which will support collaboration between patients, clinicians and others involved in a person’s care.

By working together across the health, care and technology spaces, we can make the changes necessary to ensure information is at the fingertips of everyone in the health and care system whether they are caring for someone at the bedside or planning care at a national level.


Professor Maureen Baker CBE DM FRCGP
Chair, Professional Record Standards Body