Editorials

The new NHS information technology strategy

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7299.1378 (Published 09 June 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1378

Technology will change practice

  1. Jeremy C Wyatt, reader in medical informatics,
  2. Justin Keen, visiting fellow
  1. Knowledge Management Centre, School of Public Policy, University College London, London WC1H 9QU

    As a general practitioner piloting 21st century electronic links across the healthcare system, you get a thrill each time you send a prescription direct to the pharmacist. Then you find that, because pharmacists now telephone holders of uncashed prescriptions, your drugs bill is up by 20%. Equally, some of your patients send thoughtful emails, but you need nearly two hours a week to respond properly.1 You can use the new technology to collect and analyse data about your clinical practice, and the quality of the data is definitely improving. But managing information is becoming an end in itself, and you have to devote ever more time to it. You feel you are busier than ever.2 In such ways does technology change the practice of medicine.

    The events in this scenario, and more, are likely to happen when the new NHS information technology strategy,3 published in February, is implemented. On balance, the arrival of networks to communicate clinical information with anyone in the NHS, is welcome. After a very slow …

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