"Country-wide e-healthcare initiatives will be a vital response to the many challenges faced by the healthcare industry in Western European countries," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Associate Jayashree Rajagopal, author of the report entitled E-Healthcare Initiatives in the United Kingdom. "The development of several e-healthcare solutions and the partnership with British Telecom has enabled the UK government to adopt e-healthcare in the reform process." The various challenges related to e-healthcare implementation offer a guide for other European countries that are planning countrywide implementations.
E-healthcare programmes in the United Kingdom have faced several criticisms in terms of the execution status and privacy concerns. Spine, the central database of England where patient records are stored, has been criticised for inadequate data security measures. With the information transmitted across the network and stored in a database available for access by numerous individuals, GPs and patients have raised concerns over the confidentiality and privacy of information. The authority and authenticity of people who access information from the database should be clearly defined in order to avoid leakage of patient records.
High expectations and the sizeable scale of national program for IT (NPfIT) resulted in significant expenditure and delays in implementation. Unrealised business models and the relatively conservative attitude of healthcare providers further restrained many companies from partnering in countrywide projects.
The National Program for Information Technology (NPfIT) resulted in dissatisfaction among the value chain participants. The reasons vary from the incomplete involvement of NHS staff to the lack of funds, which has resulted in reduced coverage for the programme. With the decrease in proposed funds, telecommunication operators will not be able to provide healthcare solutions and deliver the coverage as proposed to the government. Most healthcare and IT providers believe that it will be difficult to implement a single common system for the entire country.
"A basic understanding of e-healthcare solutions coupled with experience in low-level initiatives will strengthen the efforts of telecom operators planning to partner with national governments for country-level initiatives," advises Rajagopal. "Achievable goals, careful planning, step by step implementation and periodic reviews will be the key success factors for country-wide e-healthcare implementations. The government should understand the requirements of all stakeholders involved and ensure that investments are utilised effectively."
Telecommunication operators need to implement e-healthcare solutions at a lower level by understanding the healthcare environment and the needs of various stakeholders involved. Backed by this experience, they can enter into strategic partnerships with national governments for countrywide implementation. "The returns for healthcare investments can be realised only in the long-term," concludes Rajagopal. "Hence, the investments from the government must be regular and the time period between subsequent investments should be justified."
E-Healthcare Initiatives in the United Kingdom is a part of the Market Insights - Mobile & Wireless Communications subscription, which also includes research on Profiles of Major Telecom Operators and Alliances, Role of Telecom Operators in E-Healthcare and, E-Healthcare in Western Europe: A Huge Market Opportunity for Wireless Technologies, among others. These Market Insights are part of Frost & Sullivan Growth Partnership Service.
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