A Deadly Equation Of Acronyms: NHS+IT=FUBAR

Nicholas H.Tollervey | ntoll.org | September 28, 2012

I've recently had the pleasure of taking part in two hacker events organised within the context of healthcare and, specifically, the UK's National Health Service (note for Americans who missed the opening of the Olympics: it's the state sponsored monopoly on the "death panels" we use to decide which of our senior citizens are to be terminated). To be clear (and more seriously), I am using the term "hacker" in the way it is used within Information Technology circles: a hacker is a person with a passion for exploring and solving problems through writing and sharing software.

Over last weekend I was in Liverpool to attend the second NHS Hackday ~ a gathering of doctors, designers and developers. Here's my buddy and the originator of the event, Carl, providing more details about the aims and objectives of NHS Hackday:

After this, on the Monday and Tuesday, I was invited to take part in a hackathon organised by the UK's Department of Health. Officials and big-wigs from the DoH provided a diverse group of ten developers and designers with a problem: to build an "innovation platform" in 48 hours. Said big-wigs were on hand to answer questions, provide guidance and give feedback throughout Monday. On Tuesday afternoon we presented our work to a couple of them.

Both events were positive, energetic and fun. Unfortunately, they also led me to the conclusion that Information Technology (IT) provision within the National Health Service (NHS) is Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition (FUBAR). While I concede this assertion is intentionally couched in a provocative way, I doubt the sentiment will come as a surprise to those working within the NHS...