IS in Healthcare: The Case of the English NHS
This document presents extracts from policy documents and articles concerning the role of IT in the English National Health Service (NHS) in the last decade. Read this document and then discuss the following questions in your groups. In your responses make use of the ideas and concepts discussed in the lecture(s). Each group will then provide its response leading to a class wide discussion.
1. Why was the use of IT in the NHS limited in the past?
2. What was the vision behind the use of IT in 2002?
3. How would this vision be materialised? Describe the intended IT architecture of the NHS. 4. What role did the private sector play in the 2002 IT strategy? Identify the risks of the procurement options, as outlined in paragraph 3.6. 5. In 2010 the new government proposed a different IT strategy. Why was this change initiated? 6. Reflect on the 2002 and 2010 NHS IT strategies. What is their relation? What does this say about public policy? 7. Critically discuss the way in which patients are being described in the newest IT vision ‘Liberating the NHS’? Is this image of the patient feasible? Is it desirable?
I. Department of Health (2002) Delivering 21st Century IT Support for the NHS - National Strategic Programme, London 2 VISION
2.1.1 Historically, the NHS has not used or developed IT as a strategic asset in delivering and managing healthcare. While there were good, usually local, IT initiatives sponsored by enthusiastic visionaries, these were outweighed by the overall lack of funding and development priority given to IT at all levels. Good experiences were not captured, and successful implementations were not scaled from their local beginnings to NHS-wide application.
2.1.2 In 1998, the NHS recognised that IT had a major role to play in healthcare, and Information for Health (IFH) defined the strategic approach for the use of IT. Since the advent of IFH, there have been improvements in the level of IT funding and in the uses that are made at local, regional and national levels. However, there remain a number of critical barriers to the effective use of IT as a strategic tool in the delivery of healthcare by the NHS, including: • small amounts of protected IT funding that has had low priority for many Trusts – leading to very low levels of investment; • lack of a cohesive, nationally-led IT architecture for data and system standards that allow information and processes to follow the patient’s journey through the NHS seamlessly; • the need to improve coordination of IT resources and procurements to increase the pace of implementations and provide fast, better value for money IT projects; • low levels of secure, high-bandwidth connectivity for NHS staff, backed by means of authenticating users to access sensitive patient information.
2.2 The future
2.2.1 Our vision for information and IT is to connect delivery of the NHS Plan with the capabilities of modern information technologies. In the sections below we set out some of the practical examples of key stakeholder experience in an NHS operating with modern IT at its heart.
2.2.2 For patients, in a modern IT-enabled NHS there will be direct and visible impacts on how they interact with the healthcare system and on their experience as consumers of health services. They will see that their health records are always readily available to staff and will have the chance to help maintain the quality of those records. Patients will be reassured to see that staff have the high quality IT systems in place, can answer any questions they have and are relying on up-to-date treatment and prescribing protocols as well as the latest medical knowledge and clinical practice. Patient friendly care protocols will be available. Citizens will be able to obtain information over the phone or via the Internet 24 hours a day, and patients can expect up to date information...
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