WRITTEN ON May 17th, 2008 BY William Heath AND STORED IN Data nitwittery, Design: user-oriented, Foundation of Trust, Government Procurement, Save Time and Money, Transformational Government, What do we want?, Wibbipedia/MindtheGap

The UK’s expensive and dysfunctional clunking great fist of a centralised health records system is going to take four years longer than expected, says the NAO. According to Kable’s mothership The Guardian

A £12.7bn upgrade of IT systems throughout the NHS in England will not be completed for at least another six years, four years behind schedule, parliament’s spending watchdog disclosed today. Revealing that the scale of the delay to the system was worse than previously thought, the National Audit Office said plans for a national electronic record of the medical files of 50 million patients might not come to fruition until 2014-15.


Meanwhile the real world moves briskly in a far more attractive direction. An IBM-Hipaat alliance is the latest – after Google-Cleveland Clinic and Microsoft Healthvault – to offer user-controlled online health records. They send me a press release:

The IBM-HIPAAT collaboration extends patient-driven privacy to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), Electronic Health Records (EHRs), Personal Health Records (PHRs) and Health Information Exchanges (HIEs). Combined IBM and HIPAAT technologies allow patients to easily specify who is granted access to their personal health information (PHI), what information can be accessed and when. They enable caregivers to implement and enforce patient consent directives, providing “break the glass” access to PHI and EHR data in emergency-care situations, where appropriate.

This commercially-available patient-directed solution is a privacy-based approach to securely controlling PHI access across diverse healthcare applications and settings. When installed in HIE environments as the “consent engine,” Privacy eSuite empowers patients and designated providers to create and record privacy directives. The software then evaluates a provider’s authorization to access a patient’s PHI based on such directives. With the combined offerings, a patient can restrict a particular clinician from accessing PHI, even if that clinician – based on medical role – would typically be granted such access. All access requests are recorded and an audit trail is created.

Nothing on pricing but I bet it wont be costing UK taxpayers anything in tne £6bn-30bn price range bandied about for Connecting for Health.

Wibbi we canned our daft centrally-controlled electronic health records system and the D’oH! just asked Google, Microsoft and IBM-Hipaat to confirm to a standard the NHS was prepared to work to. Then we could choose which sort of electronic patient record we used, and our data wouldn’t be subjected to bossy fishing expeditions from national terrorist-prevention services trying to work out whether we eat the right amount of fruit and veg, or the wrong sort of shellfish. Why will it take so many years and so many billions of pounds before we come to our senses?

I suppose the four year delay gives people more time to opt out of centralised health records. I hope our opt-out is final; it would be a drag to have to renew it every year like a pointless TV licence or car tax disk.

One Response to “Sensible health-records option #3 emerges as CfH stretches to infinity and beyond”

Guy Herbert wrote on May 20th, 2008 12:05 pm :

Why will it take so many years and so many billions of pounds before we come to our senses?

It won’t, Will. “We” will never come to our senses, because there is a fundamental conflict of interest between the vast state bureaucracies and individual users’ convenience and privacy.

IBM’s “patient-driven privacy” will never come to the NHS because the patient is not the customer of the NHS, the state is. The product is bureaucratic outcomes and achievements. The patient is merely the raw material.