NHS IT project is dead, but why do large IT projects fail? Part 21.

Following the news that the NHS National Project for IT was dropped I have been posting some of the views I have recently had provided to me for an unrelated feature I was working on about why large IT projects are prone to fail.

Because I have had such a good response I am keeping the debate going in the blog.

Here are the posts already published: Part 1 Brian Randell, part 2 Anthony Finkelstein, part 3 Yann L’Huillier, part 4 James Martin, part 5 Philip Virgo , part 6 Tony Collins, part 7 ILan Oshri, part 8, Robert Morgan part 9 Sam Kingston, part 10 Peter Brudenal, part 11 Mark Lewis,  part 12  John Worthy, part 13 Stuart Drew, part 14 Milan Gupta, part 15 from a reader known as Matt, part 16 Fotis Karonis, part 17 Fergus Cloughley, part 18  Steve Haines, part 19 David Holling and part 20  Bryan Cruickshank.

Today part 21 comes from Rob Lee, operations director at BDI Systems. This is a contribution from Computer Weekly’s LinkedIn group, CW500.

He says: “In addition we must take into account politics and projects that are clearly too large….this limits bidding and thus value for money.

The ID cards project being a classic political example. In principle not a bad idea. Throw in conservative, socialist or liberal ideals and suddenly you have a political football screaming to be booted around and waiting to fail as leading politicians announce they would choose prison over an ID card…the project itself was subject of a number of leaks regarding the modus operandi or promotion that clearly reached way beyond just an ID card.

Take the NHS IT project as something that is simply too big. All it wanted to do when it started out was to have electronic medical records professionals could share….one sentence that cost the British tax payer £12.3bn and counting.

All the national organisation (NHS Information Authority at the time) needed to do was define a common interface for data exchange, not rocket science but simple…yes it may have taken a good year or 3 to define this interface but it would then have empowered each NHS organisation to procure what they needed to deliver their services while meeting the overall objective of patient record portability.

The politics is of course big brother…this is easily solved by empowering the patient to be the gatekeeper of their own records to decide which doctors have access and to see who accesses their records and when – imagine being able to see in almost real time your records being updated…you’d know in seconds that an appointment is cancelled not days waiting for a letter. We already have frameworks in place for people not capable of making decisions and they are just as valid with electronic records as they are with paper or for the needs of emergency medical action.”

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