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Schlumberger Sema: UK eHealth market poised for substantial growth

National Programme for IT

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SchlumbergerSema has been awarded a five-year contract estimated to be worth over £64 million, by the UK Department of Health. The project will boost the eHealth market in the UK by ensuring that physicians use the Internet in their daily work.

SchlumbergerSema, the IT Services Division of Schlumberger, will design, develop, and manage the groundbreaking national electronic bookings service for the National Health Service (NHS). The contract is the first to be awarded as part of the National Programme for IT for the NHS.

The first phase of the programme is expected to be in place by summer 2004 and will provide general practitioners with online access to hospital and consultant appointment resources. Electronic booking will mean that during physician visits patients will be able to choose which hospital they would like to attend at a date and time to suit them, thus increasing the likelihood of patients keeping appointments and reducing costs. The service will also take away the patient's uncertainty and anxiety over waiting to be sent an appointment in the post.

Datamonitor research shows that while 83 per cent of physicians are already using the Internet for their work, many physicians are using the Internet infrequently, with around half using it for only one or two hours a week. The electronic booking system will encourage use of the Internet during consultations with patients and, in turn, will raise awareness of the Internet as a health resource among patients.

The awarding of the contract to SchlumbergerSema is the first significant step in the deployment of the National Programme for IT that will transform the existing healthcare system and drive the adoption of other eHealth services. A system of electronic prescribing has already undergone trials and is due to be launched nationwide in 2004, and plans are in place to develop electronic patient records. It is thought that these developments will lead to further use of eHealth services such as physician practice websites and improvements to online resources for both patients and physicians.

© Datamonitor

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