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On May 23, 2012

IMS MAXIMS feels that the strategy presents very laudable aims, which reflect the Department of Health/NHS’s abject failure at centralising NHS IT over the past ten years. However, a “ten year Framework” is an ambitious statement for IT.  Innovations such as cloud services, social networks and smartphones are revolutionising information technology and yet they are all much less than ten years old. Much of the document refers to things that can be done today with yesterday’s technology. There is no real vision for the future based upon tomorrow’s technologies or technology trends. Many of the objectives in the The Power of Information are things that were targets 10 years ago. Let’s hope that we’re not still saying them in ten years time.

We strongly welcome the move to put the patient centre-stage in terms of controlling their care, being involved in decisions about them, and having access to their information.  But this does not go far enough; patients who want to take responsibility for their health records should become the primary owner of the information.

The date of 2015 for “all general practices will be expected to make available electronic booking and cancelling of appointments, ordering of repeat prescriptions, communication with the practice and access to records to anyone registered with the practice that requests these services” is too far off in the future.  Most GP systems can do this today.  The target of 2015 should have been for access to all health and social care records including secondary, tertiary, community and social care.

Interoperability is key to the successful sharing of information across the NHS and social care boundaries. But interoperability is difficult especially with the wide variety and significant investment in the currently installed information systems.  tech UK’s paper “We should talk: Interoperability and the NHS” highlights the work that still needs to be done to ensure that “information can move freely, safely, and securely around the system”.

The strategy makes passing reference to its equal applicability to the independent sector.  For the independent sector to be part of the care continuum and to share patient data freely with the NHS, it will require a change of culture and ‘trust’ concerning the use of the patient data.

We welcome the move to openness and transparency of performance data.  This will ensure a more informed patient choice as well as driving up standards. The ability for patients to access this via a ‘single comprehensive online portal’ is also welcome but there should be the opportunity for independent analysis of the data to present a more critical view for patients than might be available from the portal.

Finally, ‘Making it happen’ will be key.  All too often CIOs and ICT managers are just upgrading to the latest model of what they already have (e.g. PAS replacements) without thinking strategically about the continuum of care and the information sharing that needs to travel with the patient.  There requires a huge education at the front-line in terms of what needs to be achieved and what can be achieved without just ‘buying safe’ and purchasing the latest model.  As one senior person in the NHS once said, what is required is an “Arab Spring” in Healthcare IT.  What he meant was there needs to be some disruptive innovation in order to truly give the power to the people/patient.

Shane Tickell, CEO of IMS MAXIMS said: “The strategy shows good evidence that finally industry has made a valued contribution to its recommendations.

“It’s great that we have something we all agree on, that is putting the patient at the centre. Now is the time for immediate action. So let’s sit at the table, agree the priorities, organise some effort and put resource and energy into making deliveries that can be seen to work. This will enable us to restore the confidence of our clinicians and the public that the industry can work with care providers to deliver real benefits to patients, to local needs but as part of a national drive to show the UK as being a world leader. Let’s not forget the lessons learnt from NPfIT and the waste of time and money, and to ensure it does not happen again.

“The time has come for suppliers to rise up and show leadership, innovation, and a desire to collaborate. I also implore the DHID to encourage and support these suppliers, large and small.”

Relevant links: The information strategy from the Department of Health

Media contact: Chris Marsom, Highland Marketing
Phone: +44 (0)1877  332719
Mobile: +44 (0) 7788 393985


IMS MAXIMS is a pioneering clinical technology specialist committed to improving the coordination of patient care in healthcare environments. Its expert team works in partnership with healthcare organisations to identify and deliver tailored, sustainable information sharing technology solutions supporting the provision of safer and more efficient care for current and future generations.

The organisation’s 29-year history of collaborating with clinicians has resulted in the development of proven, flexible, user-friendly, safe and interoperable open source electronic patient record software.

With an ambition to meet today’s healthcare challenges, IMS MAXIMS makes its software freely available and offers flexible options to support healthcare providers with implementation and maintenance. Its open technology has increased collaboration in the development of the software which has resulted in better clinical engagement and empowerment across hospital wards and departments.

Deployment times are fast, meaning clinicians and patients can benefit from efficiency and safety improvements in rapid time. It is used across 180 healthcare organisations and by 30,000 users each day to provide clinically-led technology solutions for over 13 million patients.

Find out more about IMS MAXIMS’ open source solutions at: Follow IMS MAXIMS on Twitter

  • By Natalie Chishick   
  • NHS, NHS Information strategy


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