Covid-19 shows that we must overcome organisational barriers to deliver clean, realtime, standardised data in support of direct care, system planning, and urgent response.

Covid-19 is now a pandemic, and rapidly imposing new challenges on the health service. New ways of working with software and data could help. But the NHS is being held back by a long legacy of closed working models, reluctance to embrace open standards, lack of systemic design for systems and data, and a tendency to regard clinical informatics as a low-status backroom activity rather than an applied science on a par with other medical specialties.

In the Oxford DataLab we informally assembled a small team of clinicians and digital health experts to think through urgent actions to improve our use of digital technologies during the current crisis, and actions to start implementing in preparation for future pandemics. This post briefly summarises our suggestions and links to the full document: but its main purpose is to flag the urgent need for swift progress on digital in the NHS, and more sophisticated open discussion around the tools, systems, and culture towards digital technology across the health service.

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