Tuesday, November 21, 2006

U.K. Dept of Health: Prescription for Disaster

U.K. Dept of Health: Prescription for Disaster: "The inspiration to digitize this far-flung bureaucracy first surfaced in late 2001, when Microsoft's Bill Gates paid a visit to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at No. 10 Downing St. The subject of the meeting, as reported by The Guardian, was what could be done to improve the National Health Service. At the time, much of the service was paper-based and severely lagging in its use of technology. A long-term review of NHS funding that was issued just before the Blair-Gates meeting had concluded: 'The U.K. health service has a poor record on the use of information and communications technology—the result of many years of serious under-investment.'

Coming off a landslide victory in the 2001 general election, Blair was eager to move Britain's health services out of technology's dark ages. Gates, who had come to England to tell the CEOs of the NHS trusts how to develop integrated systems that could enhance health care, was happy to point the way. 'Blair was dazzled by what he saw as the success of Microsoft,' says Black Sheep Research's Brampton. Their meeting gave rise to what would become the NPfIT."

We can all learn from this disaster. It's not enough to have a good idea - implementing it on time and inexpensively is equally important ! Top-down approaches never work well - and this is why PHRs ( owned by patients) rather than EMRs ( owned by the healthcare providers) make so much more sense as an entry point to digitising medical records.

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