iSoft defends NHS IT progress
“We had to replace the engines while in flight,” says a senior executive at troubled NHS IT supplier iSoft of the NHS IT Programme.
Nick Harte, product management commercial director at iSoft, told a Berlin health conference that “the National Programme had wanted a very, very aggressive timetable” following Connecting For Health’s decision to first replace core patient administration systems. “In one region we’re having to replace 15,000 systems.”
iSoft’s flagship role as the largest software supplier on the NHS’s programme has turned out to be a huge embarrassment for the firm. The project has experienced massive delays and iSoft’s partners, consulting groups Accenture and CSC, have both laid the blame squarely at the software group’s door.
It was all too much for some suppliers, admitted Harte . “There have been some changes to the major players. This is to be expected. IDX [now part of GE] struggled to meet the standards imposed upon them and were replaced.”
But he said that the correct technological decision had been taken when choosing to use a Service Orientated Architecture (SOA). He said that in around 70 acute, mental health and community trusts the main existing PAS system had been replaced to date. “A Service Orientated Architecture recognises that no one company has the solution. Interoperability is the key, All the elements of the solution being put in are ‘interchangeable.’ We could deliver aspects in once cluster and vice versa.”
Harte said that the NHS Progamme bosses had “defined standards and demanded ruthless adherence to them” which was good. “Because the way we purchased and procured systems was never going to support the patient journey. Previously requirements for an integrated architecture were always an afterthought.”
He concluded: “We’ve changed the focus nationally to a secure central repository of data. We’ve done this through secure role-based access, which is relatively unsophisticated so far but will grow over time of good things out there today.”
Meanwhile Ravi Kumar, chief technology officer of iSoft, is to leave the company. “Since the company will be focused on product delivery for the next two years, the post of chief technology officer will not be replaced at the present time,” the company said in a statement.
iSoft shares were up on news that it could be taken over by Australian health specialist IBA Healthcare iSoft confirmed in February that it was talking to IBA, along with other potential buyers. ISoft remains under investigation by the Financial Services Authority for a separate issue about how it recorded its sales.