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.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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