The NHS needs to improve the way it utilises health information technology, to improve service levels for end users, one intelligence firm has claimed.
John Backhouse, regional programme director for healthcare at independent analyst Information Builders, commented that from a public perspective, IT and the NHS have had “a rather troubled history”.
He said this has been particularly the case in recent years, as the multi-billion pound electronic records initiative has ran into difficulties.
“Analytics in healthcare is currently very poor, and despite the clear and verifiable benefits it can provide, it’s simply not a priority for key decision makers at the moment,” Mr Backhouse noted.
He explained that another major challenge is building sufficient data for predictive analysis on smartphones.
“While there is usually plenty of historical data, in most cases it is tied up in legacy systems, requiring huge, and often error-prone data extraction and migration projects,” the analyst stated.
Mr Backhouse added that patient data is frequently spread across multiple systems, meaning that managing to maintain consistency in a local environment can be difficult.
And trying to migrate or synchronise the information on smartphones between trusts or different health departments can be even more so, he said.
The NHS’ IT strategy has also come under fire from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, in recent months.
Back in May 2011, the organisation called on the Department of Health to end the confusion over the health service’s technology future by publishing an IT strategy as soon as possible.
BCS Health chair Matthew Swindells claimed that the better use of IT, and greater accountability to the public and patients through information transparency, is necessary.
He said that the NHS will be unable to achieve the productivity improvements it seeks whilst maintaining quality and access without the use of IT.
“We urge the Department of Health to publish the information strategy as soon as possible and, more importantly, move quickly towards opening up NHS information to patients and the public,” he stated.
“Reinvigorating the digitisation of healthcare by creating choice and competition within a robust framework of interoperability [will also be crucial].”