Thursday, August 04, 2011

U.K. Scrapping National Health IT Network

After nine years, and $18.7 billion in wasted expenditure, the British government is about to scrap its National Programme for IT, which was conceived as a massive, nationwide health IT network for the 52 million residents of England. 
   As we reported
here already in 2007, one of the many reasons for this tragedy was an over-optimism on the part of Tony Blair and others as concerns the quality of available standards. If we use international standards, sanctioned by ISO, what, after all, can go wrong? 
   Yet as the head of the program, Richard Granger, expressed it in giving evidence to the UK House of Commons Select Committee on Health in 2007: 
In terms of the core Spine infrastructure, there was some mythology in the Health Informatics Community that the standards existed, HL7 was mature, and so forth. That was completely untrue.
And as the  UK Computing Research Committee pointed out in its evidence to the same Committee:
many of the technologies are new and have not been tested. In particular, at the heart of the EPR are two standards—HL7 v3 and SNOMED-CT. We understand that neither has ever been implemented anywhere on a large scale on their own, let alone together. Both have been criticised as seriously flawed. It is imprudent to base the Electronic Patient Record, which will be part of the UK's national critical infrastructure, on a technology experiment.
Sadly, as the many posts on this blog make clear, it seems that HL7 v3 is in no better shape now than it was in 2007.

Update October 3, 2011:

Lessons From Britain’s Health Information Technology Fiasco 

(New York Times, September 27, 2011)

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