Five steps to help cure NHS IT

The nightmare of NHS IT can be fixed. Here's five steps that can help it on its way.

The Public Accounts Committee report also suggested actual interaction with doctors and health staff would be highly beneficial. In one simple suggestion, the proverbial nail was well and truly hit on the head.

It's rare IT carries out a project by garnering opinion from end users before anything goes ahead. Yet as Fulham FC has proven this year with its IP CCTV system, in which the club's IT director spoke directly to the police about what they wanted, this method can bring real success.

The NHS can do the same. Obviously, speaking to each and every doctor, nurse and healthcare professional would be about as sensible as attempting to skateboard on an iPad, but there are better ways to understand the end user.

"Either you talk to the lobby organisation of the nurses or of the doctors, or you do representative studies," Wels-Maug said.

We can find a cure. It just needs a better approach.

"You agree with the NHS that you interview a certain number of doctors and then get their opinion and based on those results, you actually decide on how to take the strategy forward."

The needs of those doctors and nurses using the system need to be taken into consideration. It is the end user's satisfaction that will eventually be the judge of a project's success.

Stay ambitious, but stay smart

An overarching theme of the Commons Public Accounts Committee report focused on the "one-size fits all approach" and its high potential for failure. Evidently, the complexity and size of the project has been too much for all involved.

Yet many agree the overall intent was positive. As Wels-Maug told IT Pro, the so-called Lorenzo framework was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by a health organisation in the history of the world.

Whilst the DoH needs to scale down its grand plans, ensuring each NHS trust has effective IT in place rather than trying to lump a single system onto them all at once, such ambition should be lauded.

When the NHS goes back to the drawing board after the seemingly inevitable demise of Lorenzo, it should take all of the above on board.

At the same time, however, they should not give up on the dream of a nationwide platform to help doctors understand patients considerably quicker than before. It just needs a simpler, more sensible approach that takes each hospital's needs into consideration.

"I would imagine a national infrastructure would work, but I think it really depends on how it is approached and how it is being sold to trusts," she said. "Maybe there was too much rolled out and too little choice for them."

We can find a cure. It just needs a better approach.

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