Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Sceptered Isle - Part CLXXIII

Last week the UK announced that it will scrap its 9-year-old Information Technology (IT) project intended to digitize all National Health Service patient records and link all parts of the enormous NHS together.

The reason? According to Britain’s department of health, the project “has not and cannot deliver to its original intent”.

What has this project cost so far? About $6.4 billion British pounds, or about $10 billion US dollars. In response to charges that this money was wasted, NHS indignantly responded that “around two thirds” has resulted in “substantial achievements.” Well, whatever those achievements may be, that response is a clear admission that the other one-third was, indeed wasted. That one-third waste is the equivalent of more than $3 billion US dollars.

Perhaps more important is the global impact on thinking about health IT. For example US policymakers hope that IT will save scads, tons, bundles, oodles of money in the delivery of medical care. That would make medical care more effective and less costly, it would make Americans healthier, make us live longer, and make all our children handsome and above average.

Perhaps now that hope needs to be re-examined. Hope, you see, is necessary when there is no evidence. In the UK contrary evidence has been accumulating.
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