New call for better engagement on health and care IT

Health and care professionals working in the UK recognise the potential of IT to improve patient safety and promote efficient care, but find it hard to learn and share best practice in healthcare IT with other organisations.

Emerging from a study by HIMSS Europe, these findings show that health and care organisations are still grappling with major challenges around digitalisation.

Summary of findings:

  • Nearly 90 per cent of UK health and care professionals believe or moderately believe that IT is seen as a vital enabler to improved finances within their organisation.
  • IT is seen as key to improving patient safety in the UK, with nearly 60 per cent of professionals in healthcare settings believing this to be the case in their organisation.
  • The majority of UK respondents (61 per cent) said the biggest priorities for their organisation is data exchange internally and with external partners, and a further 77 per cent rated opportunities to learn and share best practice with other organisations as poor, underutilised or average.
  • UK respondents also highlighted funding (55 per cent) and security (18 per cent) as key challenges to IT implementation.

The results chime with a recent major review of health IT services in the NHS by world-leading digital health expert Professor Bob Wachter MD. The report, which focuses on health IT in secondary care in England, makes clear that the NHS needs to make better use of IT, and provide improved development opportunities to those driving IT programmes, if it is to continue to deliver safe, high quality and cost effective care.

The HIMSS Europe survey, believed to be the first of its kind, collected views from more than 500 health and care professionals from across Europe. Overall, the results suggest that the challenges countries are facing around moving to a fully digital healthcare system are largely similar.

The results indicate that the majority of organisations in Europe believe that IT can enable efficiency and improve patient safety, while the biggest priorities cited are around data exchange with external partners (29 per cent) and internally (23 per cent).

Sixty-eight per cent of all respondents described support and direction from Government as ‘inadequate’ and specifically health and care professionals from German speaking countries and from Spain cited lack of political direction as a hindrance to improved digital maturity. Nearly half of all respondents (40%) describe opportunities to learn and share best practices as ‘average’.

On 3 and 4 May 2017, health IT professionals from across the country will gather at London Olympia for UK e-Health Week 2017. The two-day show, which is expected to attract more than 3,000 delegates, will provide a platform for healthcare professionals to collaborate, learn and share best practice and updates on cutting edge health IT. With an overall theme of using data, IT and tech to transform health and care, a strong agenda developed in partnership with BCS – the Chartered Institute for IT, along with the support of NHS England and NHS Digital, will guide delegates through inspiring plenary discussions, informative workshops and practical tutorials. Colleagues from NHS, public sector and charitable organisations can attend for free. To register, visit