Management > CIO

Tim Kelsey plans IT coding programme for NHS data

Gill Hitchcock Published 18 September 2012

Director of information at NHS Commissioning Board to 'take a leaf' out of Code for America's campaign to use data to improve public services

Tim Kelsey, the national director for patients and information at the NHS Commissioning Board, is to launch a "mass training programme" in basic data coding across health and social care with the aim of creating thousands of applications to open access to NHS data.

Speaking to Government Computing, Kelsey said: "We want to help people to innovate and make best use of the data that is running through the veins of the health service, taking a leaf out of the very accessible and brilliant campaign launched by Code for America."

Since 2009 Code for America, a not-for profit organisation, was been offering training to individuals and organisations to write applications and engage with data with the intention of helping government become more connected and improve public services.

According to Kelsey, the organisation has been particularly successful in helping US local government to develop new portals and apps for citizens.

"We are proposing a similar programme in the NHS where a doctor, manager or patient can be supported in learning basic programming so they can engage with data to build new points of access which we can't begin to imagine yet," he said.

Two key focuses of the NHS Commissioning Board are transparency and participation, said Kelsey, and using NHS data will be important to both of these.

"We want the NHS to be producing, sharing and where appropriate publishing a lot more data, about where care should be provided, based on patient insight," he said.

"But we also need everybody interested or involved in the NHS to participate in healthcare, whether that's making a complaint or exercising a choice."

He said that he expects the programming project to be launched in April 2013, which will coincide with the commissioning board taking on its full statutory responsibilities on behalf the health service.

"We want to make sure that we empower citizens to play a role in the information revolution," said Kelsey. "And I hope this programme, when it launches, will not only be an exemplar in health, but inspire other parts of the public sector to participate, particularly in relation to making their data work for citizens."

Applications for the roles of director of open information and director of intelligence with the NHS Commissioning Board closed on 18 September. Kelsey said that he see the director of open data as a chief data officer for the NHS, who will drive the transparency agenda and ensure the confidentiality and proper governance of health service information.

Kelsey sees the director of intelligence as a chief information officer for the NHS who will design the future data infrastructure of the service.

"We are expecting that person to be passionate about the importance of information in driving everything from improving patient care, to better commissioning and to have quite a lot of familiarity with the NHS," he said.

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