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DH and Intellect to stimulate market

22 September 2011   Lyn Whitfield

The Department of Health is to work with Intellect to stimulate the market for NHS IT, following this morning’s announcement that the national programme is to be “dismantled.”

A press release issued by the DH this morning says that a new partnership will “explore ways to stimulate a market place that will no longer exclude small and medium sized companies from participating in significant government healthcare IT projects.”

In response, Intellect issued a statement saying that it wanted the DH to focus on helping the market to deliver interoperable systems and to develop a "central focus on clinical information sharing in the NHS Information Strategy."

To support these moves, Intellect has published a paper - 'We should talk - interoperability and the NHS' - setting out a number of recommendations for helping the NHS to share clinical information more effectively.

The paper's principal authors, Paul Cooper and Martin Whittaker, said that  NHS Connecting for Health, suppliers and trusts should work together to improve the Interoperability Toolkit programme; which has just reached its second iteration.

They argued that for the benefits of ITK to be realised, the NHS will need to make it a central plank of its promised information and technology strategies.

They said it would also need to "evangelise" the benefits to business and clinical leaders, and to engage with suppliers so it becomes an "encouragement to succeed, not a barrier to entry." 

The managing director for informatics at the DH, Katie Davis, said that the development of a “vibrant market place” was one of the key tasks to be undertaken now the government has underlined its commitment to stop the centralised delivery of IT “unless there is a single, clear requirement across the NHS.”

She said the DH was also undertaking a full review of its informatics applications and services to make sure that the IT functions it continues to carry out are compatible with the government’s announcement.

She said the work it will continue to carry out, and a framework for how IT support will be provided to the NHS “as it modernises”, will be published later this autumn.

The government announced that it would “axe” the National Programme for IT in the NHS in briefings to Conservative-supporting papers overnight.

However, the announcement substantially repeats the direction of travel set by health minister Simon Burns last summer.

Following his own review, Burns said the government would be retaining some NPfIT projects as NHS services, but that it would be looking to give regions and trusts more control over their own IT, while "honouring" the programme's major contracts.

This morning's news was welcomed by Matthew Swindells, vice president of Cerner, who said: “It is clear that the national programme has had many challenges since its inception. 

"We, for a long time now, have been calling for a radical rethink, most recently in the government’s Information Revolution consultation.

“We look forward to working with the government to ensure that successes within the programme - such as Millennium and Choose and Book - are extended, that clinical engagement in IT is increased, while suggesting alternatives for those areas of the programme that have failed to deliver.”

In a statement, BT, the provider of the N3 network and the local service provider for London and parts of the South, also welcomed the MPA's recognition of N3 and projects such as Choose and Book.

"We support the move from centrally led to locally and clinically led healthcare," the statement added. "We have already changed our approach to respond to this and were the first supplier to do so."

BT said its approach was reflected in two successful Millennium go-lives this summer and the roll-out of RiO in London and the South.

The announcement was also welcomed by CSC, the local service provider for the North, Midlands and East, which said: "CSC fully supports the direction outlined for NHS IT.

"It firmly believes that the significantly modified, more flexible approach we have proposed to drive faster deployment and support more localised decision making will enable the UK government to reap the benefits required from past investments.

"We are continuing to work closely with NHS as the programme moves to a more modular approach, whilst ensuring that benefits are increasingly realised by clinicians and front line staff, enabling them to deliver better patient care and build a more efficient NHS."

Early coverage of the government's announcement that NPfIT is to be "dismantled" has focused on the £12 billion total cost of the programme and the number of nurses and other NHS services this could have bought.

However, Swindells stressed that investment in IT was essential if the NHS was to make £20 billion efficiency savings over the next four years to bridge the gap between flat funding and rising demand, while delivering better quality for patients.

An earlier version of this story said that the DH and Intellect would be forming a new trade association. This was a misreading of the DH's press release.

Katie Davis will be speaking at EHI Live 2011 at the NEC in Birmingham on 8 November. Registration for the conference and free exhbition is open now.


Related Articles:

25 News: Government axes "Labour" NPfIT | 22 September 2011
1 News: NPfIT future is modular and locally-led | 9 September 2010
20 News: End of NPfIT to be announced today | 9 September 2010
4 News: ITK2 launches with doc info standards | 25 July 2011
5 News: DH launches ITK user forum | 30 November 2010
Last updated: 22 September 2011 15:54

© 2011 EHealth Media.


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Stimulate innovation--need global standards & improve procurement

Neelam Dugar 134 weeks ago

1. We need to move away from ITK to global standards-- XDR of IHE performs the same function as ITK.

2. Mandate open interoperability standards

3. Create level playing field for SME by simplifying procurement of IT systems


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Business Developer 110 weeks ago

Sounds like a step in the right direction... Could also help improve local ICT service desk provision to better support GPs


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elwell 134 weeks ago

The talk about ITK is quite confusing to me. Given the collossal losses incurred to date, why wouldn't the DH consider something that works and doesn't lock the government into a limited vendor set? Open Health Tools (OHT) already provides the IHE profiles free of charge and they are running health information exchanges in the US today. Large vendors also support the code base and provide interoperability solutions using the code base. I suggest someone tell the DH to look at open source for some answers. Take a look at:

https://http://www.projects.openhealthtools.org/sf/projects/openexchange/


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We should talk....about something other than ITK

JacquesOuze 134 weeks ago

The Intellect paper makes good points but suffers from ITK tunnel vision. ITK might have a place as a tactical solution, but it is a poor substitute for the Spine. It owes its existence to the fact that Spine entry barriers are very high but nobody is able or willing to address this. Find a way of opening up Spine access as an interoperability channel and the case for ITK falls away. You can see they are trying to do this with mini services, but even this is yet another way of avoiding the core issue.

Cui bono?


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Here we go again...

Les Fawcett 134 weeks ago

Nothing against Intellect, but why are the DoH going out to external organisations to ask what they need, as opposed to asking NHS IT staff what is needed first and then engaging with suppliers?

This is exactly what happened at the start of NPfIT, whereby a load of external consultants and suppliers came in and told the DoH what they needed - hence why we are where we are!

Not sure why the DoH doesn't trust the people who work for it and seems obliged to seek external assurance before acting?


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Is an apology due from DH?

brianhogan 134 weeks ago

Did DH support the Richard Granger strategy? It has had since 2003 to support SMEs and UK innovation yet has done nothing. And for Matthew Swindells to suggest that the programme has had successes such as Cerner (sic) and Choose and Book beggars belief. The programme has stifled innovation, ruined careers wasted vast amounts of money and given much of the market, in perpetuity, to a couple of American companies. I cannot imagine for a minute that a UK takeover of Healthcare Informatics in the USA would have had the active support of the American Government. Shame on the DH. Is anyone being sacked?


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great idea to involve Intellect

Ravi Kumar 134 weeks ago

It is a great idea to involve Intellect to stimulate the market. Some good news for the vendor community. Question of the Information strategy still remains and it is also important to be clear on funding too! Need for IT and business cases are clear for customer, but they are unable to launch projects because CIOs are very much unclear about funding vaccum.


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What companies are left in the UK?

george385 134 weeks ago

"...a market place that will no longer exclude small and medium sized companies from participating in significant government healthcare IT projects.%u21D

The NPfIT is responsible for pushing those very companies you are now looking for - out of business?


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How does one "stimulate" a long-decayed corpse?

DayJarView 134 weeks ago

Well said.

NPFIT killed off the innovative companies (many clinically-originated0 that were providing fit-for-purpose systems in 2002. They simply did not meet RG's capacity rules. Almost all have now simply disappeared, together with their skills, motivation and experience.

I'd like to see a reasoned business case for any SME to start work with the expectation that the NHS (wherever, and at whatever level of scale) could be a customer that would provide for a viable commercial future.

The track record has to be the worst in Europe...


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