John Lister said the NHS' planned £2.3bn investment in technology presents a number of opportunities and challenges for Bupa, which is the UK's largest private healthcare provider.
"Bupa has a lot of people within IT working with the NHS on projects such as electronic patient records, and co-operation is very good. We must ensure we do not work in isolation," he said. "Where possible, we will try to create compatible systems, because the technology used has to be easy to interface. Open standards are a must - architectural lock-in has to be avoided."
Most joint work undertaken by Bupa and the NHS will be done over the web because it would be inefficient to create links with individual hospitals, Lister said.
"Increasing numbers of hospitals and GPs are using the web, but we want the internet to be the primary interface between NHS and the private sector," he said. "In time, internet communication will be the norm. Hospitals work off very tight margins and anything that can cut costs and boost efficiency is to be welcomed."
Lister is also planning to explore ways of increasing efficiency in Bupa's internal IT systems. "I want to standardise the infrastructure wherever possible, putting as many processes online as we can to enable us to be an agile organisation," he said. "The challenge is to rationalise the architecture without throwing away all the good work that has been done on legacy systems."