Hancock says health service has seen tech uptake ‘like never before’

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The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has said the Covid-19 pandemic has seen an uptake of technology in healthcare “like never before”.

Speaking during a webinar on July 8, Matt Hancock spoke about the future of NHS technology, during Covid-19 and beyond.

“The truth be told, we have had an extraordinary six months for the impact of technology in healthcare right across the world and here in the UK, we’ve seen the uptake of the use of technology like never before,” he said.

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, demand for online NHS services soared with NHS Digital figures showing use of the NHS App increasing 111% in March 2020.

Also the number of repeat prescription requests made via the app increased by 97% and the number of patient record views rose by 62%.

This acceleration, according to the health secretary, was because the NHS had the right structure and architecture in place.

Hancock also spoke about how “culture has radically changed” and noted the “enthusiasm from staff and clinicians”.

“It has been a very big moment for team working as that is what the crisis has demanded,” he added.

Looking ahead, Hancock was questioned by host, Conservative MP Alan Mak, about how to keep this momentum for technology in healthcare going and how would the government lead the charge.

He said he was “determined” to keep the drive for tech going in the same direction.

“My question is not what do we go back to, it is how much further can we go?,” he added.

The online event was organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and also featured NHSX’s chief digital officer, Tara Donnelly.

Donnelly told attendees that the NHS tech response to Covid-19 had been “nothing short of extraordinary” and that she agreed there had been a “mind shift” among patients and staff which saw technology being embraced.

She also agreed that the current tech momentum across the NHS needed to be embedded for the future.

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