Telstra Health hires NHS open data advocate Tim Kelsey

Telstra Health has appointed NHS England’s national director for patients and information Tim Kelsey as its new commercial director, based in Melbourne.

Mr Kelsey, a former Sunday Times news editor who co-founded healthcare analytics firm Dr Foster with fellow journalist Roger Taylor in 1999 and began publishing the annual Good Hospital Guide in 2001, is also the architect of the controversial program, which aims to collect patient data from GP medical records.

Long an advocate for open data and transparency in the healthcare system, he was CEO of Dr Foster until 2007, when the NHS bought a half share in the company. Dr Foster was bought by Telstra Health in 2015, having previously had an exclusive licence to its risk-adjusted quality measurement tool.

In 2006 he set up NHS Choices, a national online health information service, and after a stint at McKinsey & Co was appointed the UK's first transparency and open data director by UK prime minister David Cameron in 2012.

He joined NHS England in that year and was also appointed national information director and chair of the new National Information Board (NIB) in health and care. was launched in 2014 and aimed to extract data from GP records on a monthly basis and share it with the national Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) to help NHS England better plan services. However, it quickly ran into trouble when GPs and patient groups said the data was such that individual patients could be identified.

It is an opt-out system but has been highly controversial and is currently being reviewed by the UK's independent national data guardian Fiona Caldicott.

Mr Kelsey is also behind the push to enable real-time interoperability of patient records and a paperless health system at the point of care by 2020 under the NIB's Personalised Health and Care 2020 framework.

In a statement, Mr Kelsey said the decision to leave the NHS was a difficult one but joining Telstra would allow him to fulfil an ambition to develop next-generation digital services for patients and professionals.

“New technologies – particularly the advent of genomics and personalised medicine – offer unprecedented opportunity to transform health outcomes,” he said.

He said the NHS must support patients, citizens and those who serve them with much better access to the information revolution. “This is a human imperative: to put data and technology to work to empower people to take control, when they want to and shape the care they need.”

Telstra Health managing director Shane Solomon said Mr Kelsey's appointment was part of the company's commitment to becoming a world-class eHealth business.

“Tim has experience both as an entrepreneur and in delivering large system change in England,” Mr Solomon said.

“He will have a crucial role in assisting Telstra Health to achieve our objective of bringing digital transformation to healthcare on a global scale. I look forward to welcoming him and his family to Melbourne.”

Mr Kelsey will wind up his roles at the NHS in December and start at Telstra Health in the new year.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Tags: Telstra Health

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