Friday, October 01, 2004

EMIS versus NPfIT

According to the EMIS-Online website
EMIS is the largest IT supplier in the Primary health care market, hosting over 39,000,000 Electronic Patient Records within its systems. EMIS is an innovative IT provider delivering comprehensive solutions and services to the NHS Primary health care market. Our corporate policies ensure realistic and objective appraisal of Primary health care computing both for present and future needs, whilst fully supporting current and future NHS strategies.
EMIS is under threat from the National Programme for IT in the NHS (NPfIT). As we see from several articles in Computer Weekly, Manpreet Pujara, chairman of the EMIS User Group, is one of the NPfIT's most vocal critics. A letter dated August 23rd, from Dr Pujara to the EMIS user group membership, is published on the EMIS corporate website (pdf).

So why is this conflict interesting to anyone other than those directly involved? Legacy systems are decommissioned all the time; stakeholders with a vested interest in the old technology put up a spirited defence; users loyal to the legacy vendors display resistance to change.

Computer Weekly is paying attention to this conflict for several reasons. Firstly, it has many readers who are directly involved in IT for the NHS. Secondly, its UK readers are interested in the NHS both as consumers and as taxpayers/voters.

But there is are some general principles at stake as well. The NpfIT seems to be a classic example of large public sector IT. And that's the main reason we are discussing this here.
  • What are the characteristic features of large public sector IT
  • How does NPfIT manifest these features?
Trevor's critique is in three parts: diagnosis (making sense of what is going on), prognosis (predicting what is going to go wrong) and prescription (sketching an intervention that would get things back on track).

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