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December 8, 2015

Martha Lane Fox: All NHS buildings should offer free wi-fi

News: Lastminute.com founder makes digital recommendations to National Information Board.

By Alexander Sword

Baroness Martha Lane Fox has called on the Government to offer free wi-fi in all NHS buildings as part of a review commissioned by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Making the recommendations to the National Information Board, the founder of lastminute.com and former UK Digital Champion suggested the wi-fi would allow patients in hospital to monitor conditions through apps.

She also argued for a new focus on building the digital skills of the NHS workforce and for new digital tools to be offered to those with the most health and social care needs.

By 2017, the baroness said, 10 percent of registered patients in every GP practice should be using a digital service such as online appointment booking, repeat prescriptions and access to records. She argued that doctors should be encouraged to refer patients to services proven to work.

According to Lane Fox, the measures will increase the ability of patients to self-monitor. Increasing understanding of digital health tools will also allow people to avoid unnecessary GP visits and hospital admissions, as those least able to use them are often those with high health and social care needs.

"One of the founding principles of the NHS was to ensure that everyone – irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation – should have equal opportunity to benefit from the best and most up to date medical and allied services available," said Lane Fox.

"In the network age, universality, equity and quality must be at the very centre of how we build, adopt and scale new technologies in health. No-one must be left behind."

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