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What's After the NHS IT Programme?

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My second patient record procurement gained the attention of those setting up what would become the NHS National Programme for IT. I remember suggesting there were essentially three options for a national health IT system: replace everything with one system, seek to integrate exisiting or disparate systems, or something in between. I said the integration option was the one most likely to be successful.

Of course, I speak with the advantage of 20:20 hindsight, but maybe we are about to find out if I was right. In a recent interview Katie Davis, managing director of NHS informatics, says the new watchword will be connect all rather than replace all.

The NHS IT Programme squeezed out many of the smaller, and more innovative, suppliers from the health IT market, something Katie Davis accepts. Thankfully, some determined suppliers have managed to hold on and are now ready to re-enter the market applying their long experience of the NHS. Also, though my cartoon pokes fun at them, IT departments have been itching to deliver local solutions that add real value for 9 long years.

The energy of NHS IT staff and suppliers and the need for more efficient services may be enough to carry us through this very difficult phase in the evolution of healthcare IT. Let's hope so.

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