The creation of Electronic Health Records (EHR) was established by President George W. Bush in 2004. He created the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology to support the adoption. The ONC created standards for medical records but adoption was slow. In 2009, President Barack Obama picked up the torch stating EHR was a priority.
Other countries have picked up the adoption of EHR as well. In the UK, where it is referred to as EPRs (Electronic Patient Records), representatives from NHS (National Health Service) have touted EPRs vital for streamlining and safeguarding patient information, improving health informatics and fueling data-driven patient services.
EHRs in the United Kingdom—the Tale So Far
The EHR journey in the UK can be summarized in three phases:
1. Getting Started
In 2005, the NHS began the adoption of EHR systems. The objective was to create centralized, electronic health records by 2010. This EHR system was called the National Programme for IT (NPfIT). It was intended to link nearly 30,000 doctors across 300 hospitals in England. The idea was to ensure that NHS staff had instant access to medical information about its patients from the time of diagnosis through to treatment and integrity of patient data was ensured at all times.
2. Things Go Awry
Many hospitals started adopting EPRs but there were some glaring loopholes, most notably the lack of a central hub for exchange of healthcare information and little guidance on making EPRs feasible and easy-to-adopt. Slowly, the program lost its steam and to a certain extent, it was ridiculed and dismantled, gaining the notoriety of being, one of United Kingdom’s biggest IT failures in the healthcare industry. During 2011, another controversy emerged when a lawsuit was filed against CSC (Computer Sciences Corp.), accusing the company incapable of delivering on its $5.4 billion contract with the NHS.
3. Introspection & Regaining Lost Ground
Industry analysts pointed out that the concept of creating a central healthcare information database wasn’t at fault but the method in which its adoption was executed was to blame. Many of them proposed using something similar to the open-source healthcare platforms. Supporters for the national EHR program in the UK regained their voice in 2011 and since then, the adoption of EHRs has been gaining its lost momentum. In May 2012, the HIMSS’ (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) EHR model was introduced in the UK, which put forth an 8-stage model, more suited to UK’s healthcare environment.
EHR in U.K.—Inspired by the United States but Challenges Persist
NHS has found its inspiration from the manner in which the United States established a network of 60 Extension Centers for accelerating the adoption of EHRs. The methodology at these regional centers is to train healthcare managers and physicians in developing a sustainable business model capable of adopting EHRs. While the nearly $9 billion incentives distributed in the U.S. are playing a significant role in faster adoption of EHRs, the NHS might not be so forthcoming with financial aids.