Connecting for Health: awaiting the winds of change
Political and technological winds of change whistle through NHS Connecting for Health's National Programme for IT (NPfIT). They may erode the notion of a single, comprehensive, monolithic system serving GPs and acute, community and mental health care settings and deposit the spores of innovation, clinical inspiration and supplier diversification.
At UK's Healthcare IT Conference in March 2006, several speakers—including Richard Jeavons NHS CFH's Director of Service Implementation—recognised the need for a refresh and a new operating model.
However, in my article Making NP Fit I argue for a clearer vision of future care based on centralised information and devolved innovation. For instance, NPfIT—which was specified in 2002—makes little provision for telecare and wireless technologies. Such omissions risk obsolescence.
In Switch on to IT Benefits I also argue technological innovation and clinical inspiration are linked. NPfIT has failed to inspire a critical mass of clinicians—a likely fatal flaw. One way to repair that is to engage an influential few clinicians in the transformation of care with IT to inspire others.
In a recent assessment in the UK's Sunday Times Paul Durman paints a bleak picture of NPfIT's Local Service Providers suffering the financial consequences of failing to deliver. Nonetheless, NHS CFH rebuts suggestions that LSP contracts will be renegotiated.
While that may be the case, a re-scoping of LSP deliverables and the introduction of greater choice of IT systems suppliers seems inevitable.
As a long-time supporter of the need for a multi-disciplinary patient record, I sincerely hope the winds bring real change and drive Connecting for Health's NPfIT back on course.