BCS reaction to NHS Informatics Review

The British Computer Society has given a generally positive response to the Health Informatics Review of NHS IT.

The BCS questions, though, whether there has been consultation with leading academics who were “vocal” in relation to the National Programme for IT [NPfIT], or with Intellect,  or with the Information Commissioner on the confidentiality of patient data.

After much praise, the BCS says of the Informatics review:

“If we were to criticize it would be that there is little recognition or emphasis on building from experience. As a profession we have extensive experience on the issues and problems of health informatics. We hope this will be used. Too much emphasis on central development sometime ignores this fund of knowledge.

“We would also like to see more emphasis on clinical systems…”

The BCS statement in full:

BCS response to the Department of Health Informatics Review July 2008

As a profession we welcome this report.  It is presented as a relatively high level, goal-oriented set of requirements and is very accessible for such a document.   As a high level report the devil may be in the detail of the implementation report to be published in the autumn and we hope that we can help by contributing towards the development and the promotion of this implementation plan.
The report is well founded on consultations with a wide range of stakeholders. We would be interested to know if this included consultation with:

a. Intellect/industry beyond LSPs
b. Office of the Information Commissioner (re confidentiality of patient data)
c. Academic Group of 23 (who were vocal in relation to NPfIT)

Lack of commitment from NHS management at all levels has impeded progress in implementing informatics support for patient care. The new NHS CIO was already known to be a significant step in the right direction. The proposal to get “credible, capable” CIOs at Trust and SHA Board level is also a major step forward in getting management buy in to health informatics

We also feel that getting informatics involvement at an early stage of policy development will help to keep progress moving forwards with less of the feature creep which has bedeviled implementation.

The drive towards   professionalism is to be applauded.  The development of our profession will improve planning, design, development, delivery and ongoing use of systems. We must move health informatics staff out of the doldrums into the mainstream and alongside other professions which have an impact of patient care.

The statement that “Perfection being the enemy of the good” is absolutely right and we need to review all plans processes and procedures to ensure they are focused on supporting positive patient outcomes, not intellectually perfect systems which will be ineffectual in the work place

We applaud the emphasis on standards and would encourage building on the current processes and not reinventing wheels with the proposed drive to an end to end standards process.

If we were to criticize it would be that there is little recognition or emphasis on building from experience. As a profession we have extensive experience on the issues and problems of health informatics. We hope this will be used. Too much emphasis on central development sometime ignores this fund of knowledge.

We would also like to see more emphasis on clinical systems. The Clinical 5 described is fine as far as it goes but will not have as much impact on patient outcomes as will longer term moves to a full clinical record.

Links:

Health Informatics Review report – Department of Health

Website of leading academics

Informatics Review – IT projects blog

 

 

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