Carl Reynolds On [Britain's NHS] Procurement Woes

Carl Reynolds | eHealth Insider | October 19, 2012

Junior doctor and open source enthusiast Carl Reynolds compares buying a used car with an NHS IT system, and concludes that the NHS needs to try harder to get a good deal.

...Now, if your job is to look after sick people – let’s say you work in the NHS - then the inefficiency is also an opportunity cost. In other words, you now have less time and resource to heal the sick. And when it comes to changing cars that bizarre boot thing is a real pain.

One example of where it’s all gone wrong. One recent NHS Hack Day project was ‘The ePortfolio Data Liberation Front’. A junior doctor frustrated by the NHS IT that she is compelled to use teamed up with a software developer to write a tool that extracts her information from a proprietary NHS system - the NHS ePortfolio - so she can use the software she chooses.

The NHS ePortfolio, which is a system that doctors use to record their career progress, is a good example of NHS IT procurement gone wrong. The code is kept secret for commercial reasons we're prevented from inspecting its quality or improving it. Users do experience the product and we have a rough idea of costs; a conservative estimate is at least £630,000. The expert opinion is that it's sadly not good value for money...