BT hopes to export electronic data scheme
BT is aiming to export its expertise in health IT and electronic patient records to the Middle East and Africa on the back of the key role it has played in the NHS’s £12bn IT programme.
BT will shortly meet the government of Qatar and its business community to discuss e-health in Qatar and neighbouring states. It will also talk to the Singaporean government, which has major e-government plans.
This may disconcert observers whose impression is that the programme, in which BT's core goal is to create widespread availability of an electronic patient record, is running spectacularly late and over budget - even if the latter judgment is so far unfounded.
But, five years into the world's biggest civilian IT programme, "we feel we have cracked the nut", said Patrick O'Connell, managing director of BT Health.
"We have not reached the end of the story," he said, "because the job [which involves contracts stretching out to 2013 and beyond] is far from done."
He added that there would be more bumps along the way: "These very large programmes remain tricky until the last day."
But BT reckons it has now proved the effectiveness of the technology and its installation. It is looking to export its expertise, in whole or in part, including the identity management systems it has helped create to control access to the electronic record.
François Barrault, chief executive of BT Global Services, said the company "has proved itself as a world-class IT services organisation through the successful delivery of its large-scale contracts for the NHS in the UK".
Mr O'Connell conceded that "we got off to a very slow start", but said the company is now demonstrating that the system does and will work.
BT has provided every GP surgery and hospital with broadband connectivity to create the biggest virtual private network in Europe - it completed this part of the programme early. It is now adding voice over Internet protocol to the system.
The so-called "spine", the messaging system and database that holds the programme together, which was seen by critics as a key vulnerability, is now working well after a redesign, Mr O'Connell said.
BT holds the big installation and support contract for London, which now, like the rest of the country, has digital X-rays and scans throughout.
More than half of London's mental health and community units have had the new patient administration systems installed, and, belatedly, similar systems have started to go into acute hospitals.
The Department of Health was in "robust discussions" with Fujitsu over the way the information technology services provider was delivering the NHS's giant IT programme across the south of England, David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive said on Thursday.
He added that - as reported in the Financial Times on Thursday - it was also in talks with CSC, one of the two other big service providers for the multi-billion pound programme, having concluded a revision of the contract with BT, which is the local service provider for London. Mr Nicholson insisted to the Commons health committee that the talks were not a "renegotiation" of the contracts, as the department published figures claiming that there had been "no cost overruns" on the £6.6bn worth of contracts it had signed to deliver an electronic patient record and other services.
However, Mr Nicholson acknowledged that "adjustments" to the contracts were needed in the light of experience and "there are things in them we would like to alter.
"We are in discussions with, particularly, Fujitsu about delivery in the south - whether they are delivering things that we want in the way that we want them, and we are having very robust discussions with them," he said.
The NHS would also like "a bit more choice about the configurations we are being offered" so that the service gets "what it wants and needs" with more flexibility, he said.
"So we are in discussions with the local service providers about that," he added.
Источник: Financial Times
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