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Views & Reviews Personal View

Improving the use of IT in the NHS

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 29 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3922
  1. Phil Leonard, senior manager, Ernst and Young’s information technology advisory practice, London
  1. pleonard{at}

    I used a cash machine in Ecuador a couple of years ago and managed to withdraw $3 from a cash machine when I meant to withdraw $300. The next attempt delivered the $300 I wanted. Five minutes later my mobile phone rang. It was from someone at Natwest Bank, calling to ask me whether I was in Ecuador and whether I had withdrawn $303 dollars in the past 10 minutes. That distant transaction had automatically emailed a fraud investigation officer somewhere in a UK call centre.

    A combination of things are required for such a response, but it made me think that rather than just being about the big technical things, such as shared global banking networks, it was also because of the little things, like the fact that my mobile phone number was up to date and that someone had the vision to use what is probably a relatively simple algorithm and alert system to save what, I imagine, has been millions of pounds of defrauded money.

    Either way, as a customer I was very impressed with the way in which my bank used information technology to make me feel really valued as an individual customer.

    As someone who works with the NHS, but also as an occasional user, I am less impressed with the way in which computer technology makes me feel valued as a …

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