Clinicians in driving seat for healthcare IT

CCIO Leaders Network launched to drive through technology adoption

Secretary, Andrew Lansley, today promised to ‘remove the shackles’ and put healthcare workers in the driving seat when it comes to the future adoption of IT solutions in the NHS.

He has launched the Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIO) Leaders Network, a professional group designed to support doctors, nurses and allied health professionals taking the lead on IT and the use of information in healthcare.

And he is promising a profound shift of decision-making to the local NHS, with clinicians leading change in information technology and ensuring its freedom to innovate.

The CCIO Leaders Network was formed following a successful campaign by healthcare IT news portal, eHealth Insider (EHI), to encourage all NHS organisations to consider appointing a CCIO.

Speaking at the launch, hosted by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in London, Lansley said: “In the past doctors and nurses have had to bend over backwards to fit in with the needs of the systems introduced to their workplaces. They were shackled with rigid, expensive IT contracts that failed to deliver as intended.

In the past doctors and nurses have had to bend over backwards to fit in with the needs of the systems. They were shackled with rigid, expensive IT contracts that failed to deliver as intended

“We are now putting local clinicians in the driving seat, able to reap the benefits of the explosion in information and technology which is reshaping the world beyond the NHS.”

He also made clear that it was intolerable that clinicians, who regularly use a smartphone to video chat with colleagues across the world, have to spend weeks waiting for patient information to be sent by post. The gap in utilising modern technology was to be closed by the leadership of those with their patients in mind, not by central decree from government, he added.

Alongside focusing on clinical involvement to drive change, the Health Secretary reiterated the need for clinical systems across the country to talk to each other, exchanging information safely in the interests of patients. The NHS Commissioning Board will lead on championing the national standards that are required to underpin local innovation and choice.

So far, six CCIOs have been appointed in the NHS and feedback suggests that the issue of clinical leadership in IT has risen significantly up the healthcare agenda. A total of 11 royal colleges have backed the campaign along with more than 70 healthcare IT companies and numerous individuals.

We are now putting local clinicians in the driving seat, able to reap the benefits of the explosion in information and technology which is reshaping the world beyond the NHS

The CCIO Leaders Network is being delivered as an online community and aprogramme of events with partners, culminating in the first CCIO Conference at EHI Live 2012 in November.

Editor of EHI , Jon Hoeksma, said: “The response to the campaign has been terrific and the momentum it has generated will get the CCIO Leaders Network off to a flying start. We have nine further events planned for 2012 and an online channel that will be offering news, information and peer support to clinicians taking on these vital roles.”

Professor John Williams, director of the the RCP's health informatics unit, added: “The CCIO can play a major role in ensuring that patient data is complete, accurate and useful at the individual patient level to underpin better patient care, and at the wider aggregated data level to support commissioning and research. Clinical leadership in this area can really make a difference, and the CCIO Leaders Network will provide encouragement and vital support to those clinicians taking up CCIO roles.”

Three leading firms in healthcare IT – BT, Cerner and iSOFT - have backed the network as foundation sponsors. Dr Justin Whatling, BT Health’s chief clinical officer, said: “BT has been fully behind eHealth Insider’s drive to establish the post of CCIO in UK healthcare organisations from the beginning. We’re delighted to continue our support with this exciting evolution of the campaign.

Clinical leadership in this area can really make a difference, and the CCIO Leaders Network will provide encouragement and vital support to those clinicians taking up CCIO roles

“As CCIO posts gain an increasing foothold, it’s important they are professionally supported and establish a powerful peer network from which they can share best practice, develop and grow as informatics leaders. The CCIO Leader’s Network is a great way of achieving this, and will enable the UK to harness the power of informatics to modernise the NHS.”

And Alan Fowles, vice president and general manager Cerner UK and Ireland, said: “We share the vision that information technology has the power to enable transformation of healthcare delivery, simultaneously generating efficiencies and improving patient outcomes.

“The most significant improvements are brought about when healthcare technology is closely aligned to medical practice. As a foundation sponsor of the CCIO Leaders Network, we look forward to the campaign pairing strong clinical leaders and innovative IT in the NHS in future."

Traditionally, the NHS has failed to fuse our IT profession with our clinical profession and we must change this. Information and informatics are fundamental to driving improvement in the quality of patient care and how we engage patients as equal partners.

The decision to increase the involvement of clinicians and other healthcare professionals, has also been welcomed by BCS Health, the chartered institute for healthcare IT.Its chairman, Matthew Swindells, told BBH following the announcement: “We are absolutely delighted that the Secretary of State has thrown his weight behind so many of the recommendations we made after consulting our members on the NHS Information Strategy , such as the creation of chief clinical information officers, opening up the health and care software market to bring the benefits of competition, and enforcing interoperability standards.”

Dr Justin Whatling, vice chairman of policy and strategy, added: "BCS believes the CCIO role is central to the professionalism of informatics in clinical practice. Traditionally, the NHS has failed to fuse our IT profession with our clinical profession and we must change this. Information and informatics are fundamental to driving improvement in the quality of patient care and how we engage patients as equal partners.”

Click here to visit the network website

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