Intended for healthcare professionals


“Personalising” NHS information technology in England

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 02 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7341
  1. Trisha Greenhalgh, professor1,
  2. Justin Keen, professor2
  1. 1Yvonne Carter Building, 58 Turner St, London E1 2AB, UK
  2. 2Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9LJ, UK
  1. Correspondence to: T Greenhalgh p.greenhalgh{at}

The latest framework for action has learnt few lessons from recent failures

The remit of England’s National Information Board is to set strategy and commission informatics services for health and social care.1The new board recently released its first major publication, Personalised Health and Care 2020.2

Described as a policy framework and resting heavily on unpublished “research” from the management consultancy McKinsey, the 66 page document paints a futuristic picture of an NHS in which information flows freely between citizens, general practitioners, and other care providers, and staff are freed up from inefficient and repetitive data entry to engage in more productive work.

Patients, the framework predicts, will regularly access and annotate their online health record, order repeat prescriptions, and book hospital appointments through a personal portal. They will use “kitemarked” mobile applications (apps) and wearable monitoring devices to manage their illnesses and support healthy lifestyles.

This vision is depicted as dependent on three things: a high degree of technical interoperability between systems; consistently excellent data quality; and “activated” (that is, informed, skilled, and motivated) patients and staff. An ambitious timetable promises that by March 2015, for example, all NHS patients will have online …

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