Prestigious UK IT Group Intellect Agrees On The Need For An ‘End To Silos’ In NHS Informatics

“If you think about it, the NHS deals with over a million patients every 36 hours and over 250 million interactions a year. Is a paper and postage system that can take months the most effective way of providing care today? In any other industry that volume of interaction would be ripe for digital transformation.”

This is a quote from an expert called Jon Lindberg, who is associate director for healthcare at Intellect, the official ‘trade body’ of the entire UK IT industry, representing over 800 member companies who collectively contribute 10% to the entire national GDP.

The quote is from a blog he wrote last week called, ‘A digital health service we deserve’. In it, he summarises some of the main themes from a new Intellect study that addresses the self-same issues we have looked at in our series of blogs: how to use technology in one part of the NHS that we know works and extend it to help other areas, in order to moving to the kind of ‘paperless NHS’ the DoH has made an official target.

According to the Intellect report, The NHS Information Evolution patient information is “buried deep in silos.” What is needed is a practical set of solutions that will unlock the data and make it truly portable, open up the NHS to a wider range of technology providers; as well as introduce the mobile and connected technologies a 21st century health service is looking for.

The NHS needs to modernise, but to get there the NHS must do two things: punch holes through those silos of information, while simultaneously push for more open standards.

Key to all this is a new take on the underlying information architecture of the NHS. For too long, says the study, systems and services designed and implemented locally often work well, but end up burying information, making it inaccessible to those on the outside. A much better idea is an architecture that allows information to flow horizontally and follow the patient.

This looks to be a very useful new approach. I am also pleased that Intellect has picked up on the same cues we have spotted – which is to use PACS standards as the basis for a new form of EPR based on the proven Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) approach. In Intellect’s case, it has a wider remit, so addressing more than one ‘silo’ – but the idea is the same: the route to national NHS IT systems that work is to go bottom up, but with a strategic goal in mind.

What do you think? Could this work in your Trust?