Intended for healthcare professionals

Information In Practice

Why general practitioners use computers and hospital doctors do not—Part 2: scalability

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 09 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1090

Operational needs neglected for hospital systems

I was involved in a Department of Health pilot looking at scoping a
district information system to support the purchaser / provider split.
North Manchester, with Cambridge, was a site for developing this work in
the late 1980s. It was often said that the computer systems should be
devised to help the operational running of the service so that staff would
feel that the system was useful to them. Although this was supposed to be
an underlying principle of the project, it became increasingly clear that
management needs were taking priority. I argued that we would only get
good management data when staff felt the computer system was helpful to
them and that staff would then want to feed in information that was
complete and accurate.

This view did not prevail. I guess this
experience was mirrored in other initiatives throughout the NHS. No
wonder, in addition to all the other factors mentioned in the two papers,
that hospitals have not made progress in using computers as they should
have done.

Competing interests:  
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 November 2002
Peter J Elton
Director of public health
Bury PCT, 21 Silver St, BuryBL9 0EN