I attended a lecture last week by Professor Rowena Cullen of Victoria University, School of Information Management.
It was a very interesting talk where she spoke about the importance of a barriers to using and analysing information in the Health sector. She put IT investments in the context of health outcomes and used NZ and UK case studies to demonstrate how poor the returns on IT investment have been.
My own belief is that this complaint applies to a lot of IT spending across both the public and private sectors.
She finishes the paper with the following comments:
"Firstly, let us go back to the mantra of Open standards, Open architecture, Open source, and Open access, which I believe are the solutions to the problems I have outlined. This approach is the only way to overcome the silos of healthcare which are currently preventing interoperability and the exchange of information which is necessary to improve the quality, safety, productivity and sustainability of our healthcare system."
And specifically, with regard to the electronic health record:
"A distributed model, based on a “safe, shared, transferable patient electronic health record” based on international open standards, open architectures, and, I sincerely hope, open source software., managed by mandate by the National Health Board. It seems that as the field of Health IT matures (it is in reality barely 15–20 years old) consensus is building on the way forward."
This thinking is quite profound given the amount of money spent on IT in health and Government in general and given the academic foundation of Rowena Cullen's research and comments.