Technology in the NHS

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What did we do in this project?

Our aims in this project were to identify what determines whether and how technology is adopted in the NHS, what work had already been undertaken, and how barriers could be overcome.

The final report from the project: Technology in the NHS was published in October 2008. It offers examples of health care technologies and how they could improve patient care. The report also makes a number of recommendations for how we might achieve an ‘ideal scenario’ under which the potential of technology is fully realised in helping to meet the objectives of the NHS. It suggests that it will need the active involvement of all those in the system – consumers, clinicians, local and regional management, regulators, the Department of Health and the technology industry.

Why are we interested in this piece of work?

As a society, we are making increasing use of the internet and its related technologies. But the NHS has been relatively slow to adopt these consumer-facing technologies, despite – and perhaps in part because of – the National Programme for IT, with its focus on systems internal to the NHS.

Technology could support the delivery of health care in a number of areas:

  • providing and storing information and advice
  • administration and transactions – eg, making appointments
  • diagnosis – making diagnostic technology available to the consumer
  • monitoring – particularly helpful in an ageing population
  • relationships – improving communication between the patient, carers and professionals.

We set out to identify what determines whether and how technology is adopted in the NHS, and how barriers to adoption and uptake could be overcome.

Project team

A multidisciplinary team of consultants from ?WhatIf! carried out this work to influence thinking about and approaches to the use of technology in health care:

  • Alasdair Liddell is an independent expert on the health sector, who acts as an associate of ?What If!.
  • Stephen Adshead is a senior consultant at ?What If!, with nearly 10 years' experience in strategic consulting and analysis in the broadcast, telecommunications and technology industries.
  • Ellen Burgess joined ?What If! from medical device company Stryker Corporation.