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NHS's chances of getting world's best IT: 80% ... maybe*

*Assuming its CIO meant 8 in 10, not 8 in 100

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The NHS has possibly an 80 per cent chance of having the world's best IT in healthcare in 10 years, its CIO Katie Davis told the 2012 Health Informatics Congress.

Meanwhile Sir Muir Gray, director of NHS National Knowledge service, blamed the managerial culture of Blighty's health service for previous technology fiascos, and said that fresh blood and enthusiasm is the cure.

With 1.7 million workers, the NHS is our planet's fifth largest employer, putting Davis in charge of IT at an organisation surpassed in size by only the US Department of Defense, the Chinese army, Walmart and McDonald's.

Speaking at a panel discussion last week, Davis was asked to estimate the NHS's odds of becoming a world-beater in technology, and said that the British taxpayer-funded service had an 8 out of 10 chance, probably. Davis, quoted on EHealthInsider, said:

That’s a tough question, it would be unrealistic to say we will definitely have a world-beating IT system in ten years because we are in a period of huge change. But I don’t think it would be unrealistic to say [on a scale of one to ten] eight, maybe.

What gives me that confidence is when you see huge enthusiasm and a real understanding that there is an opportunity here. There are so many examples of GPs and hospitals doing different and innovative things with IT, all with the patient at the core and all about using information in the proper way.

Bags of enthusiasm, letting youngsters in, and holding software development "hack days" were some of the ways that it's hoped will improve the NHS's record on IT. Professor Gray sketched out how the service could haul itself into a world-beating position: “This is about getting young people involved, with the older guys standing aside. These are clinical systems, not information systems, and clinicians have to take responsibility of stewardship of these resources."

Prof Gray said that the history of problems with IT in the NHS stemmed from a “managerial and culture issue” within the organisation. ®

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