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The United Kingdom Health Service Electronic Health Record Program

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History

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The United Kingdom Health Service Electronic Health Record Program is an element of the health record programs established under the scope of the National Program for Information technology with the objective of ensuring that health records for all citizens in the United Kingdom are accessible electronically. The onset of the development of this program largely begun in 2002 following the adoption of IT strategies described in health reports from various departments. Afterwards, in 2005, an agency formed to implement the prescribed strategies absorbed previous programs and authorities within the healthcare sector and became the key player in the attainment of strategic healthcare care goals in the United Kingdom.

In this regard, access to medical records, which is a major cause of delays witnessed in the delivery of healthcare, would considerably improve. Integration of It infrastructure in organizations related to the National Health Service would ensure that healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses remain connected throughout thus facilitating effective service delivery. Furthermore, this system would create a platform upon which patients and health professionals interact.

Scope and Spending

The Program constitutes different elements that facilitate effective integration of systems and models for service delivery in the healthcare sector. These elements include the electronic booking service, which minimizes time spent in documentation tasks within hospitals and clinics giving health professional more time to attend to patients. In addition, electronic booking promotes easier data management. Another element is the Electronic Transmission of Prescriptions (ETP), which links entities operating within the domain of medication. The ETP system ensures that the authority responsible for pricing of prescriptions liaises with pharmacies and practitioners in facilitating access to medicine. The other element of the Health Record Program is the Health Space web service, which provides patients with an effective and efficient way of accessing their healthcare records. The National Network (N3) provides the framework for connecting various elements in the within NHS. This high level of interconnection facilitates collaboration between different departments by fostering quicker access to information. Other elements of the Health Record Program include a support system for quality management, systems supporting decision making in matters such as prescription, access to online medical knowledge, and systems facilitating referrals and clinical testing and investigation. Management of information within the program is mainly the role of a group of service providers who include the Personal Demographic Service (PDS), Summary Care Record (SCR) and Secondary Uses Service (SUS). The main role of PDS is to store patient’s information in a central database for easier retrieval. Furthermore, it gives patients authority to determine the level of confidentiality of the stored healthcare records. While PDS is a comprehensive profile of patients’ information, SCR provides summarized clinical information of patients. The SUS protects confidentiality of patient’s information by maintaining anonymity of information used in research and planning within the healthcare sector. Since the Electronic Health Record Program operates at the national levels, it requires large budgetary allocations that amount into billions of dollars. These huge spending have often attracted criticism from parties that feel cost of the program does not reflect the quality of services that citizens receive. By 2006, the program had spent an estimated 10 billion dollars despite the adoption of measures such as the contract signing with IT providers in order to spread risks and liabilities related to the program.

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Supplier Involved

The National Program for Information Technology, which is the backbone of the Electronic Health Record Program, incorporates five major geographical locations in the United Kingdom to ensure national impacts of the program. The selection of the five areas, known as clusters, relies on the role of Local Service Providers (LSP) concerning the delivery of healthcare services within particular jurisdictions. When the program began, it had four LSPs. These were the CSC Alliance, BT Health, Accenture Alliance and the Fujitsu Alliance. The structuring of these providers sought to minimize risks relating to shortage of healthcare services or ineffective delivery when a single supplier is serving the entire system. By incorporating different suppliers, the program would ensure adequate levels of compensation against shortcoming related to a particular supplier. Overtime suppliers such as Accenture and Fujitsu have had their contracts canceled leaving only three of the original LSPs serving in the program.

Status

The Electronic Health Record Program faces numerous challenges due to matters relating to data security and reservation of health professionals. Over-reliance of the program on IT systems has introduced numerous threats on data security and thus the possible compromise on the privacy of patients. In this regard, the realization of strategic healthcare goals requires the adoption of measures that will safeguard sensitive information while ensuring its availability for foster quality healthcare. Measures such as the implementation of codes of ethics that sanction inappropriate access of data among professionals in the healthcare sector will protect the future of the program.

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Future

Ineffectiveness of the program to engage health professionals may have negative effects on workers performance thus introducing challenges in the attainment of strategic goals in the healthcare. The progress towards better healthcare delivery requires the adoption of strategies that ensure the program contributes to a better working environment. The involvement of healthcare professionals I necessary for the program to function effectively.

Despite the challenges evident in the implementation of the program, it has considerably transformed healthcare delivery throughout the United Kingdom. In this regard, eliminating the identified challenges will guarantee a through and all-inclusive program that will give patients access to high quality services.

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