Today eHealth Insider is launching a major campaign, calling for every NHS provider organisation to consider appointing a chief clinical information officer.
The EHI CCIO campaign begins with an open letter to health secretary Andrew Lansley, urging him to back the campaign.
The letter calls on him to recommend that every NHS trust in England should identify a clinical information champion as a first step towards appointing a CCIO to lead the Information Revolution he has promised for staff and patients.
The CCIO role will create a dedicated, senior clinical champion for IT projects and the use of information to improve the quality of patient care.
EHI editor Jon Hoeksma said: “EHI has written about NHS IT for almost ten years and a hallmark of almost all successful projects is that they have strong clinical leadership or engagement.
“We believe that NHS information projects need to be designed and led by clinicians; and that means NHS organisations need to invest in high profile, capable people to do the job.
“It is to secure that commitment and investment that we are launching the EHI CCIO Campaign.”
The EHI CCIO Campaign is already being backed by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Computer Society.
However, the support of other professional bodies, healthcare IT suppliers and you, EHI’s readers, will be crucial for success.
EHI readers and other supporters will be invited to back the campaign using a dedicated pledge website from the start of July.
The EHI CCIO Campaign website will also provide features, case studies and background material on the case for CCIOs, so you can pass on the message to friends and colleagues.
Hoeksma added that CCIOs are not a substitute for NHS chief information officers or IT directors.
“The new CCIO role should build on the great experience and skills already out there. There are lots of excellent NHS IT professionals, but we need to further strengthen the profession and grow clinical leaders.
“We hope that it will provide an attractive new career option to clinicians who want to focus on using information to improve the quality of care. This is a challenging and ambitious campaign, but it is one we think we can win... with your support.”
The EHI CCIO Campaign has been inspired in part by the evolution of chief medical information officers in the US over the past two decades.
Approximately 2,000 US hospitals now employ CMIOs, and there is an impressive body of evidence showing that they have delivered benefits to their organisations and patients.
CMIOs provide expertise and leadership on IT projects and how information can be used to improve services.
We have chosen the name chief clinical information officer to emphasise that information champions do not have to be doctors.
Many NHS information projects are already led by nurses, therapists and other health professionals and these existing leaders should be identified and developed as future potential CCIOs.
Dr Justin Whatling, vice chair, strategy and policy, BCS Health, said: "BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, endorses this campaign, which aligns with our own recent recommendations calling for a chief clinical information officer role to be created in NHS organisations.
“It is a critical role that firmly unites informatics and clinical practice, ensuring the successful use of information and IT systems in the transformation of healthcare."
John Williams, director of the Health Informatics Unit at the Royal College of Physicians, said: “The Royal College of Physicians is pleased to support this campaign.
“Clinical leadership is essential if the benefits of information technology and management are to be harnessed to deliver better, safer, patient care in the NHS.
“The appointment of a chief clinical information officer in every trust or health board will bring this leadership, and ensure greater focus on patient benefits, while undoubtedly improving the quality of the information used to manage both patients and the service.
“As a national initiative, the potential for UK wide collaboration between CCIOs brings the opportunity for additional benefits such as the universal implementation of professionally endorsed clinical standards for the structure and content of patient records.”
© 2011 EHealth Media.
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