NHS IT staff need new approach for new government, says BCS

IT staff in the NHS need to approach information in a new way if they are going to meet the challenges a new government will bring.

Matthew Swindles,...

IT staff in the NHS need to approach information in a new way if they are going to meet the challenges a new government will bring.

Matthew Swindles, head of health at BCS, the chartered institute for IT, said at the society's Health Informatics conference today that a "traditional" approach to technology and information will not be good enough as the public sector faces budget cuts.

"There has been a failure of informaticians to demonstrate they are part of the solution [for better healthcare], and a failure on the part of the leadership to make greater demands of informaticians," he said.

Swindles said people had got locked into the idea that IT in the NHS was about the perceived failure of the NHS programme for IT, when it "could be so much more".

The improvements he would like to see include better integrated care pathways for patients, enabled by effective technology systems and improved flows of information.

"At the moment it is easier to move the patient to where the paper record is - we need to have a mechanism for collating pharmaceutical and medical records," said Swindles.

He also said the care of a population in a certain area could be improved by combining technical expertise with epidemiology, using data and statistics to predict the area's needs according to the prevalence of different diseases instead of using a "one size fits all" approach.

Patients could also be empowered to look after themselves more using simple technologies. "The technology exists to allow many people to self manage their care," Swindles said.

Swindles added that the changes he is after would require a culture change in the NHS.

"The NHS behaves like a big institution. Creating an environment where you can innovate is the crucial role for government going forward," he said.

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