A long term commitment to transforming healthcare using information and IT is outlined in NHS Wales’ new strategy, Informing Healthcare. The emphasis of the early part of the implementation will be on legacy management and ensuring that the service is ready to run with the changes.

Informing Healthcare says the most commonly cited cause of technology-related project failure is the failure to prepare the ground in an organisation before implementing the change process and introducing technology. In response to this, it says a “readiness framework” is being introduced as part of the overall strategic and financial framework for Wales.

Early work will also include the preparation of work programmes
on five key benefit areas:
• The single record;
• Workforce empowerment;
• Patient and carer empowerment;
• Service improvement;
• Knowledge and information management.

The document charts many reasons for the failure to invest in technology in the past including: lack of finance, a focus on management information rather than clinical information, risk aversion in the face of public sector IT disasters elsewhere, the separation of IT staff from core healthcare delivery and a failure to integrate technology into new ways of working. The strategy promises a fundamental re-assessment of these problems.

Informing Healthcare is able to record some past successes, however, including the ICT Foundation Programme for GPs, the Health of Wales Information Service and the EDICT programme for IT training and education. Corporate all-Wales procurements have also secured common systems in many areas including audiology, child health, finance and the telecoms network, DAWN.

"It is important to secure these systems and build upon them, and also seek out more local initiatives that might have the potential to be expanded across Wales,” says the strategy.

A strategy implementation programme board is to be set up and a complete strategy implementation plan is promised. It will include fully resourced plans for all the national and local projects which are being initiated during the next 12 months and will be published following approval from the programme board and updated annually. A companion document, Informing Social Care, is expected later this year.