The head of Milton Keynes hospital foundation trust says technology can save time, lives and money
Parts of the NHS are still in the dark ages, technologically speaking,” says Professor Joe Harrison, chief executive of Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS foundation trust. “There are still sites across the NHS that don’t even have wifi. In certain parts of the NHS we still believe that paper and pen are the way to capture data,” he adds with barely concealed contempt. Harrison worries that the service’s unhappy history with technology, most infamously exemplified by the failure of the £12bn Connecting for Health initiative, a bold attempt by the then Labour government to modernise NHS IT but plagued by cost overruns and scrapped in 2011, has left it poorly placed to benefit from the digital revolution.
Harrison fervently believes that embracing tech, IT and digital innovation helps patients and staff and improves the quality of care. He appears both baffled and horrified that doctors at outpatient clinics still write notes from the consultation into the patient’s often bulging paper medical record and that hospitals send patients letters to confirm their next appointment. “The vast majority of people who use tech on a daily basis would be happy to communicate and engage with the NHS in a different way.”
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