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England unplugs its health IT.

After nearly a decade of effort and billions of dollars, the British National Health Service has scrapped its national health in-

Granted, some of the announcement contained political posturings, but all in all, the failure of this ambitious effort reflects the gap between big ideas and real implementation. It certainly is a cautionary tale for our own national vision and expectations for health IT.

While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has achieved a reasonably functional system at modest costs, our own country has numerous tales of regional efforts that have proved to be unworkable. Medical centers are scrapping systems that cannot integrate with different software silos within their own facility. Aside from the expense of purchasing software, there are the countless hours of personnel training and clinical inefficiency as learning curves are mastered.

Policy makers need to realistically assess the time, costs, and ultimate functionality of IT systems. Clinical professionals are too busy caring for patients to be dragged into blind alleys of overly optimistic systems implementation.

DR. GOLDEN is professor of medicine and public health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock.
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Title Annotation:OBSERVATION UNIT
Author:Golden, William E.
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Date:Oct 15, 2011
Words:188
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