Three quarters of NHS chiefs lack confidence in government’s ability to deliver IT innovation

There is an overwhelming lack of CIO confidence in government ability to deliver IT led innovation in the NHS, according to a study released today.

The study, commissioned by wireless networks provider Xirrus, found that as many as 74 per cent of respondents are either "not very confident" or "not confident at all" in the government's ability to drive IT-led healthcare innovation.

Inter-agency collaboration has also been put under the spotlight, with CIOs looking for more support from government to tackle these issues.

Both the "increased IT integration and information sharing across all healthcare organisations" and the "standardisation of data across the health service" were highlighted as key areas of concern for healthcare IT leaders.

"This finding is likely a response to failed government IT projects which have previously hampered the NHS," says Sean Larner, International VP, Xirrus. "These include the 2002 attempt to upgrade NHS computer systems which failed at a reported cost of £9.8 billion. Additionally, a lack of clarity and consistency in government policy can impact confidence scores."

But it's not all doom and gloom. According to the survey, the "paperless NHS" initiative spearheaded by Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has resonated with decision makers.

However, the study found that the main obstacle to achieving a paperless NHS is funding, cited by just over a quarter (26 per cent) of respondents. Security concerns (17 per cent), cultural resistance (17 per cent) and a lack of enabling IT infrastructure (17 per cent) were also identified as barriers to adoption.

"The 2013 technology fund to help enable the paperless NHS initiative was open for a very short amount of time to request funds, so people should get planning for the imminent 2014 technology fund," said Mark Austin the assistant director of clinical information and business intelligence for the Bedford Hospital NHS Trust.

"Additionally, it is important to remember that more established consultants can struggle with records going paperless. A phased approach to the digitalisation of patient information can help to bolster support for a paperless approach. We found that e-prescribing was a comfortable first step as clinicians no longer had to spend time going back to wards or the pharmacy to check their handwriting, freeing up their time and providing clear benefit."

While support for the paperless NHS is high, over half (52 per cent) of respondents didn't rank it as the most important technology challenge facing the NHS. In fact, over a fifth of healthcare CIOs stated that other ICT initiatives are taking priority over paperless including mobile technologies, wireless networks and so-called telehealth schemes.