The objective of this report is to provide a proposal to reduce the IT operational costs. National Health Service (NHS) is a biggest healthcare service provider in the UK, and the organization delivers both primary and secondary healthcare since its formation. The UK government major objective for forming NHS is to provide the affordable and quality healthcare delivery for all social class in the UK. To achieve its objective, the government has implemented the IT project to improve the service delivered by the organization. Despite the implementation of the IT project to deliver the quality healthcare delivery for the UK population, there is an operational issues within the IT department. The external service providers are still delivering the IT services, which has been translated into the high operations costs. The report provides several recommendations to decline the operation costs within the IT department.
One of the recommendations is to increase the number of IT staff within the IT department in order to transfer the service that the external service providers deliver to the in-house team. Moreover, the report suggests that NHS should increase the level of training of IT staff to make them more competent to deliver the IT service. The report also suggests that there should be an IT training for all NHS staff to reduce the burden of work of the staff of IT department. The time frame for the implementation plan will be 3 years and the budget for the plan will be £1.5 million.
Operational issues of IT Department NHS
National Health Service (NHS) is a UK public funded health organization. The organization was launched in 1948 to deliver the primary and secondary health care service. As being revealed in Fig 1, the primary healthcare delivered by NHS consists of GP practice, optician health service, pharmacy, walk-in center and NHS direct. The secondary healthcare consists of care trust, mental health trusts, emergence & care trusts and NHS trusts. Since the formation of NHS in 1948, the NHS has grown to become the largest public funded health organization in the world. Presently, NHS employs approximately 1.7 million people by which half are clinically qualified. However, NHS England is the biggest healthcare provider in the UK catering for approximately 52 million people where 3 million people are treated by the NHS England every week.
Fig 1: NHS primary and secondary Healthcare
While NHS has many objectives to achieve, one of the major focuses of the organization is to "put information at the heart of decision making to improve the quality and standards of care and to increase efficiency in the English NHS and adult social care sector." (National Health Service 2009 P. 4). More importantly, NHS aims to reduce the burden of data collection and ensure that adequate resources is devoted to the storage, collection, analysis and dissemination of data and make positive changes regarding the clinical services. To achieve this objective, the UK government approved the information technology (IT) project for NHS to deliver efficient clinical service to UK population. Despite the aim of the organization to use the IT to deliver high quality healthcare service to UK population, the IT department within NHS faces several challenges in the effective operation of IT policies.
Objective of this report is to investigate the issues related to the IT operation management within NHS IT department and identify the challenges facing the NHS IT department for effective implementation of IT policies within the organization. The report also provides recommendations on the method to reduce costs associated with the IT service implementation.
Internal and External context of the problem
NHS information technology (IT) is one of the largest IT program in the world, and the project expenditure has reached approximately £12 billion. Major drivers for the implementation of the project are to enhance the effective data storage and minimize the medical errors. More importantly, the implementation of information system within the NHS is to support patient care. Despite the major benefits derived from the project, the program is facing major challenges. Evaluation of the NHS IT program reveals that operational inefficiencies has been the major set back leading to the rising in the operation costs of the NHS IT implementation.(Hendy Fulop, Reeves, et al. 2007). While the success of NHS IT operations relies on the proper functioning of information systems within the clinical practices, however, common high costs within the IT profile has been the major concern making the organization to become sometime short of cash. Hackney & McBride (2003) point out that the major problems leading the challenges in the NHS IT operation has been attributed to the lack effective management within the organization. Prior to the IT project implementation, the use of IT is limited, and where the system existed, the technology was archaic, incompatible and diverse. Lack of effective IT system brought about the full fledge implementation of IT infrastructure. While IT system is a promising project for the NHS, lack of qualified and experienced IT staff hampers the benefits that the organization would have derived from the project. Within the two or three hospitals being managed by NHS, people with non-IT discipline were drawn to become IT managers. In one of the hospital, a nursing manager was asked to manage a large nursing management information system. Additionally, information systems were procured by the government direction without an adequate understanding of their intended purpose. There are also issues related to the operation strategy of the program. The NHS IT department is suffering the acute shortage of staff making the organization to outsource its IT services to the third parties IT providers to manage and operate the existing IT system.
"IT services were mostly provided through an outsourcing arrangement with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). This made use of contractual terms and conditions negotiated between the Department of Health and CSC and delivered via a "leveraged" arrangement under which the IC could buy services, on a per account basis, making use of pre-negotiated resources, both technical and human." (National Health Service 2009 P. 5).
Typically, the issue related to managing the IT service within the NHS has been one of the challenges facing NHS managing capacity. Analysis of the issues has led to unacceptable delay to achieve response time for each service request within the organization and high volume of the waiting queue to track service request. National Health Service (NHS) the long-term objective is to integrate effective Information Technology (IT) systems for the effective operation of the organization. However, the search for effective information and management within the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK depends on the effective implementation of IT policies. However, if technology declines in value, there is a danger that the effective data collection exercise may not be operationalized into the effective management information system and be translated into the effective patient care. Part of the challenges also comes in the way management treats the IT issues and its operation strategy. (Willcocks & Mark 2009). Since 1998, NHS executive set a target to have an electronic heath record in 2005, however, with the complexity and politics surrounding the project, only 3% of the project reached its completion in 2002. Major factors leading to the delay is the inadequate setting and financial pressures elsewhere within the organization. While the NHS IT project is the largest IT public project ever undertaken within the UK, problem of achieving information flow, and to resolve confidential issues have been the cornerstone factors leading to the 30% of the program failure. IT implementation failure experienced at NHS Wessex Regional Health Authority ended the government to lose taxpayer money of approximately £43 million. With failure experienced at Wessex regional project, National Audit Office is currently evaluating whether the project is likely provide good value for money. Jeffcott & Johnson (2006) argue that management lack effective implementation of risks management within the IT department. Effective IT operations require the organization to evaluate the current approach to risk management of new technology. NHS organization lacks effective risk management strategy to implement modern technology. Despite the implementation of the new technology, the organization still faces clinical litigation for clinical negligence.
Boddy et al. (2009) point to the external context of the IT problem within the NHS organization. The authors reveal that power politics at the central government is the contributing factor to the problem facing NHS. Power is the ability to influence the others to act in a particular way. In a way to limit the contribution of the IT staff within the NHS IT department, the central government limits funding for the recruitment of qualified IT staff and training of existing IT staff. Hendy et al. (2007) supports this argument by pointing out that Ministers and top civil servants have acknowledged that NHS is experiencing the budget deficit making the NHS trusts to prioritize IT department within the NHS objectives. Typically, NHS has been affected by the power politics from the center to…