Plans for ‘I-phone style’ development of NHS IT
By Steve Nowottny
The Department of Health is to allow the development of 'I-phone style' applications for NHS IT systems in a bid to kick-start the troubled National Programme for IT.
In a keynote speech to open the Healthcare Computing 2009 conference in Harrogate, the Department of Health's Chief Information Officer, Christine Connelly, said NHS systems would be made more acccessible to developers as one of a series of measures to revitalise the national programme in the acute sector.
Ms Connelly said many parts of the national programme were ‘going well', highlighting as an example the Choose and Book system, through which she said 54% of first outpatient referrals are now being made.
But she warned: ‘In the acute sector, it's important now for us to get some focus, work with suppliers and to demonstrate significant progress.'
The Department of Health will develop a toolkit by next March to allow additional functions to be developed for some IT systems such as Cerner and Lorenzo, along similar lines to ‘applications' developed for Apple's I-Phone and the social networking site Facebook. Applications will be developed locally but accredited centrally, Ms Connelly said.
‘When the I-phone first came out it came with a standard set of functionality,' she said. ‘But things got much richer when Apple released the technology to allow applications developers to write their own applications for the I-phone.'
‘It's making systems available so that other people can have them, but not that the centre will dictate the programme of development, not that we will actually decide which things will get done. That decision will be made locally.'
Ms Connelly also revealed that new deadlines had been set to demonstrate ‘significant' progress in the rollout of new systems in hospitals.
One implementation of the Cerner system is projected to be ‘up, running and going well' in a big hospital by the end of November, she said, while the Lorenzo system will be fully deployed in an acute setting by the end of next March.