Letters

Ten ways to improve information technology in the NHS

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7397.1034 (Published 10 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1034

Users, not geeks, should design interface

  1. Steven Ford, general practitioner (sford-hb@dircon.co.uk)
  1. Health Centre, Haydon Bridge NE47 6HG
  2. Thame OX9 3JZ
  3. Department of Health
  4. Yeovil District Hospital, Yeovil BA21 4AT
  5. Cairns Library, University of Oxford Health Care Libraries, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU
  6. IHS Library, University of Oxford Health Care Libraries, Institute of Health Sciences, Oxford OX3 7LF
  7. Endocrine Research Unit, Joseph 5-194, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, 200 First Street, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

    EDITOR—With reference to the article by Majeed et al,1 the consultation is central to medicine, and information technology must facilitate it. With the constant changes in information technology it remains nascent, disjointed, and user hostile. It is no surprise that implementation remains problematic. Paper records will be superseded, but successors must emulate their familiarity and simplicity.


    Embedded Image

    Supporting doctors' clinical practice comes too low in the NHS's IT priorities

    (Credit: BSIP/LA/FILIN, MERCERA/SPL)

    The authors do not mention the main weakness—what users see and what they can do with it. Background issues (coding, networks, intranets, security, maintenance, data transfer, etc) are the province of geeks. Even the brand leader (EMIS) is difficult to operate in consultation, and its presentation of data, especially lab results, is dire.

    Interfaces operated by hand via large colour liquid crystal display touch screens are the technologies that can transform health computing by rendering the consultation process “natural.” Healthcare computing will be wonderful when the user can use it easily. Get users, not geeks, to design the interface, and the project will take wing.

    Footnotes

    • Competing interests None declared.

    References

    1. 1.

    Any change in information technology in general practice requires extensive piloting

    1. Duncan Keeley, general practitioner (yc23@dial.pipex.com)
    1. Health Centre, Haydon Bridge NE47 6HG
    2. Thame OX9 3JZ
    3. Department of Health
    4. Yeovil District Hospital, Yeovil BA21 4AT
    5. Cairns Library, University of Oxford Health Care Libraries, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU
    6. IHS Library, University of Oxford Health Care Libraries, Institute of Health Sciences, Oxford OX3 7LF
    7. Endocrine Research Unit, Joseph 5-194, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, 200 First Street, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

      EDITOR—I disagree with Majeed et al's contention that better information technology support for practices requires locating patients' records on central servers.1 Good support for practice based servers may be a better choice.

      Running a primary care trust's records on a single server is a high risk …

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