Intended for healthcare professionals


Successful delivery of information technology in the NHS

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 24 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6663
  1. Paul Altmann, chief clinical information officer and consultant nephrologist,
  2. Jonathan Michael, chief executive
  1. 1Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK
  1. paul.altmann{at}

Chief clinical information officers are needed to lead the information revolution

In a time of austerity it might be unpopular to suggest that every NHS organisation needs a new high level post: a chief clinical information officer (CCIO). Yet it is an idea that is gathering support and leading to action in some quarters.

A campaign was recently launched ( to encourage NHS organisations to appoint a CCIO. Organised by eHealth Insider, a news and information channel on healthcare information technology, with the British Computer Society and the Royal College of Physicians as partners, the campaign has attracted many supporters. Five royal colleges; NHS medical director, Bruce Keogh; health minister, Lord Howe; 27 IT firms; and numerous individual clinicians and IT professionals have endorsed it to date.

One of the drivers behind this campaign is unfortunately a negative one. Although the NHS can be proud of some of its achievements in IT, there have been too many failures, particularly in secondary care. In many cases, commercial complications and a lack of engagement with doctors and nurses, the primary users of clinical IT systems, have been cited as factors.

The need for clinical engagement and leadership were highlighted by Frank Burns in 1998.1 However, the NHS never promoted the importance of this, and ten years later the …

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