Can the NHS Get Digital: A Meeting of the NHS Confederation

Can the NHS get digital?

Why has the NHS been so much slower to use information technology than other sectors and what might be done to encourage it to speed up? These were questions addressed yesterday at an NHS Confederation seminar, but we were urged to talk opportunity not barriers and to avoid answers like “change the culture and the medical curriculum” and “introduce more leadership.”

Joanne Shaw, chair of NHS Direct, began the seminar by drawing an analogy with banking. Twenty years ago you had to go into a bank to withdraw money, and you might even have had to make arrangements with your own bank to withdraw money from another bank. The bank was dominated by the manager, caught for ever for middle aged Britons by the television character Mr. Mannering, a pompous and officious fool. Shaw said she felt like a supplicant and not a customer when she visited the bank. But now millions use telephone and online banking. I haven’t been into a bank in months.

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