Competition or Co-operation? Strategic Information Management in the NHS

Nerys Fuller-Love, Joan Cooper

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This paper investigates the strategic planning for information management in the National Health Service (NHS). The purpose of the study is to establish whether the use of information technology (IT) to encourage competition in the NHS is effective. The approach taken to implement IT within the NHS is examined with a view to determining whether the increase in competition has led to changes in the way IT systems are developed and managed. The role of IT in increasing the competitiveness of hospitals has been crucial. This paper looks at the role of information management in encouraging competition, and whether it leads to greater efficiency and improvements in patient care. This paper examines firstly the strategy for information management in the NHS; secondly, the IT strategy in Wales and specifically in the Ceredigion NHS Trust; and thirdly, examines four developmental pilot projects. The conclusion is that the strategy of encouraging competing pilot projects is counter-productive. The pilot projects are too ambitious given the lack of previous investment in IT and that the projects themselves, although worthwhile from a developmental point of view, need substantial investment before they can be implemented. Only one of the projects has been implemented despite partial success for two of the other projects. The successful projects had the support and involvement of the senior management and this may have had an effect on the decision making process. Hospitals in the NHS, faced with tight financial constraints, will need to co-operate with other organisations in order to develop integrated systems for better patient health care.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Information Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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