Designing and assessing digital health services

Creating a route to market for digital health and social care technologies

Digital Technology Assessment Criteria - beta 

The UK digital health ecosystem is vibrant and rapidly changing with patients, commissioners and developer organisations all playing an active role in the development and use of digital solutions. NHSX is committed to giving citizens and staff the technology they need, and by working with stakeholders across the ecosystem, we are creating the environment for innovation to flourish.

The Digital Technology Assessment Criteria for health and social care, beta (DTAC) is designed to support these stakeholders. It forms a baseline assessment criteria that validates the suitability and function of digital health technologies for use by the NHS, social care staff or directly by citizens. It replaces the existing Digital Assessment Questionnaire (DAQ) and Digital Assessment Portal (DAP). 

It will be supported by the Guide to Good Practice for Digital and Data-Driven Health Technologies, which will be published in October by the NHS AI Lab. Used together they will articulate a clear ambition for the generation of digital services designed around people’s needs and which adhere to key principles of privacy, security, interoperability, clinical safety, accessibility and inclusion.

The DTAC sets a baseline for digital health and care technologies enabling both patients and the system to adopt relevant, safe and innovative technologies much more quickly.

How is the assessment criteria defined?

As it’s applied and scaled, the DTAC focuses on detailing the specific requirements that must be evidenced before digital health technologies can be used directly by patients or procured safely by commissioners and the wider health and care system. 

The assessment criteria is focused on 5 core areas. Sections 1-4 form the core assessed criteria, with a separate conformity rating and recommendations provided around usability and accessibility:

  1. Clinical safety: assessed to ensure that baseline clinical safety measures are in place and that organisations undertake clinical risk management activities to manage this risk
  2. Data protection: assessed to ensure that data protection and privacy is ‘by design’ and the rights of individuals are protected.
  3. Technical assurance: assessed to ensure that products are secure and stable
  4. Interoperability: assessed to ensure that data is communicated accurately and quickly whilst staying safe and secure
  5. Usability and accessibility: products are allocated a conformity rating having been benchmarked against good practice. Where there are areas for improvement, recommendations will be made if there are areas for improvement.

During this beta phase (anticipated to cover approximately three months) we will continue to work closely with developers, digital technology assessors and commissioners to ensure the criteria is updated as the market develops. 

We have set out a roadmap to assessing new apps and products from January, to support engagement with commissioners. We encourage developers to consider whether they meet the DTAC criteria in the meantime. You can read more in our blog.

Evidence standards framework for digital health technologies

We will also continue to work alongside other key stakeholders including the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) to support innovators, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and NICE to build on the Evidence Standards Framework for digital health technologies. This is a framework that describes the level of evidence needed to demonstrate effectiveness and value for digital technologies that have different functions and risks. 

Data-driven health and care technology

NHSX wants to make the NHS a world leader in developing ethical and safe data-driven technologies. Find out more information on what AI is, why AI matters, what our AI lab will do and the tools and guidance we have developed to support innovators in this field.

NHS digital service manual

The digital service manual helps NHS teams design and build consistent, usable digital services that put people first. It includes:

  • the NHS.UK frontend library
  • prototyping kit
  • design principles
  • UI styles, patterns and components
  • content style guide
  • accessibility and other practice guidance