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NHS IT has chance to be a world leader

4 May 2012   Chris Thorne

Katie Davis

Katie Davis, the current head of IT for the NHS, has given the NHS an 'eight, possibly' score of confidence in the NHS becoming a world leader in healthcare IT within ten years’ time.

Speaking in a question time panel at the end of the 2012 Health Informatics Congress in London yesterday, the managing director of NHS Informatics at the Department of Health, was asked how likely it was that the UK could gain such a position.

“That’s a tough question, it would be unrealistic to say we will definitely have a world beating IT system in ten years because we are in a period of huge change,” Davis told journalist Nick Ross, who moderated the event. “

But I don’t think it would be unrealistic to say [on a scale of one to ten] eight, maybe.”

She added: “What gives me that confidence is when you see huge enthusiasm and a real understanding that there is an opportunity here.

"There are so many examples of GPs and hospitals doing different and innovative things with IT, all with the patient at the core and all about using information in the proper way.”

Davis also echoed the words of Jim Easton, the NHS national director of improvement and efficiency, whose team is in charge of the much-delayed NHS information strategy, in saying that the latest round of NHS reform means that the “centre” is now in charge of “enabling rather than delivering” to the NHS.

One member of the audience, who owns a small IT company, said that despite this change of direction, he did not believe that he would be able to break into the NHS market.

The DH has pledged to work with Intellect to create a ‘vibrant’ healthcare IT market. But Davis said this did not mean it was her role to create a system that would allow such companies to prosper.

Ross, suggested her response meant that small IT companies were “basically stuffed.” In response, Davis emphasised the failings of the National Programme for IT in the NHS, and how central decisions had failed to deliver for local NHS organisations or smaller suppliers.

Professor Sir Muir Gray, director of the NHS National Knowledge Service, told the conference that the history of problems with IT in the NHS stemmed from a “managerial and culture issue” within the organisation.

To tackle these issues, he said he was supporting the NHS Hack Day initiative, which is being led by EHI columnist Carl Reynolds, and which will take place in London later this month.

Sir Muir said he hoped the event would encourage the “young guys in the NHS” to take IT forward.

“This is about getting young people involved, with the older guys standing aside. These are clinical systems, not information systems and clinicians have to take responsibility of stewardship of these resources,” he said.

However, Professor Iain Carpenter, president of Institute Health Records and Information Management, argued that clinicians are already “fired-up” and implementing a new attitude towards IT.

“I believe the atmosphere has changed. We sent out a questionnaire to our fellows at the Royal College of Physicians and within two weeks we received 3000 replies all answered by hospital doctors.

“They are fired up and are getting the message that the world is changing. We do have a chance at being world beaters and I believe we are going places.

“This is an exciting time but we are on a journey and nothing is going to get better tomorrow, because it never does. It happens slowly, but we will get there, even if the leaps forward are gradual.”

Baroness Young, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, argued that they needed to get on with it, because “patients are coming for you” – wanting better quality and more engagement in their care.

 


Related Articles:

9 News: Don't rely on info strategy: Davis | 8 November 2011
26 News: NPfIT stunted NHS IT market: Davis | 6 October 2011
9 News: DH and Intellect to stimulate market | 22 September 2011
Last updated: 8 May 2012 08:21

© 2012 EHealth Media.


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Before we can move forward we first have to understand what has not worked and why.

John Aird 128 weeks ago

Initially and really up to quite recently NHS IT grew up divorced substantially from the clinician and nursing medical world, centering on PAS type functionalities. Often seen as an overhead and lacking the relevance to clinicians, who in turn rarely spoke with a single voice. Many clicians, having both the money and ability, "did their own thing", later asking IT to plug then into the main stream and support their systems. While a stream of national systems failed through funding, National/SHA/PCT over control, poor contracts, poor specifications, etc, etc.

So what should we do looking forwared? Well there always have been some very enlightened CE's and senior clinicians, perhaps we should look at their examples. But for my money the main reason for only partially achieving the potential of many systems employed has more to do with clinical ownership and the willingness of an organisation to modify admin and clinical practice to benefit (we are often akin to buying a modern car yet still insist on the old practice of having a man with a red flag walking in front).

One of the main causes if this disconnect is that often the clinical world have been onlookers not owners, choosing to hop on and off the bus when it chooses them. Perhaps the solution is to relocate ownership of IT Strategy to the Medical Director, and restructure IT as a service delivery organisation. Give the vision, drive and delivery of modern EPR type systems to those who use them.

And what about NHS Centre? Require them to set, manage and enforce national vision, standards and infrastructure.


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No Chance

rogerjavon 129 weeks ago

Having worked in the NHS (most recently as a non-exec) and Hong Kong Healthcare I cannot imagine the UK catching up in 50 years, first we need to re-structure the NHS into business sized entities and abandon the current reforms. Then have a cohesive and deliverable IT strategy which will ensure quality, consistency and standardisation across the country.


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rogerjavon
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Absolutely no chance

layton 129 weeks ago

So, return to the structure that we had 40 years ago and resurrect the NPfIT? Didn't work last time and surely won't work again.

But there is the kernel of an idea here. The key is to remove the NHS from the political arena where traditionally it gets kicked around like a football. Each new government has to implement its own 'reform' programme and the only way to stop that is to take the NHS away from government.

It can be done but it needs some lateral thinking. Come on ehi - time for you to sponsor an event where speakers are invited to propose alternative and innovative ways of delivering healthcare in the UK. Even thinking the unthinkable rather than the usual rehash of politically orientated repetitive statements. What is needed is genuine fresh thinking that is not constrained by politics.

Will it happen? Absolutely no chance!


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Optimism vs. Resourcing

george385 129 weeks ago

Without REAL () investment it will come to nothing. Theres only so much that can be done with people's good-will and optimism. The pep talk isn't needed - what is needed is cash so that programmes of work can be properly funded.


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No meaning at all

layton 129 weeks ago

Q&A sessions, unless the panel have been forewarned of the specific questions, inevitably result in off the cuff answers with little if any validity, evidence or meaning.

And incidentally 'on a scale of one to ten' is not the same thing as an '8 out of 10' chance.


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I approve of optomism..

Mary Hawking 129 weeks ago

I'm not sure what "an eight out of ten chance of the UK being a world leader in healthcare IT in ten years%u219 time." actually means.

Is this about commercial issues (UK will be a leading EHR IT provider), clinical (UK will be using health IT more - and better - than 8/10 other health economies) or reputational?

And who judges this?

If you look at the very different situations in the organisation and funding of health care in different developed, emerging and undeveloped health economies, it is not clear - to me, at any rate - what is being discussed here.

Can anyone help?


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