UK Health Informatics: What a Waste/What an Opportunity

We're spending about £12bn on 'an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is' somewhere within the field of healthcare informatics. This particular project has been extensively criticised by many distinguished university computing departments and more-or-less, the whole industry outside dotgov.

Of course, Gordo (ex-TV journalist, weak at maths: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6589263.stm, clown school dropout -sorry I made that last bit up-) and the Sir Humphries (studied classics, ego-size = budget-size-wasted x K | G ) plough on regardless.

If they don't waste our money, -who- would? Who, indeed? The usual suspects (EDS, Accenture, Cap Gemini, for example) are summoned, fiddle around expensively http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/19/pac_consultant_costs/, depart (Accenture). But, there are surely non-executive directorships to be had to supplement those gold plated pensions, roll-on gravy train, roll-on.

About six years ago, I wrote to the Department of Health to complain about a £100m messaging system that would bring 'enormous benefits'. This system was abandoned shortly afterwards leaving £10m on the table and that's just one piece of -visible- waste.

Actually there's a more innovative way to do this more cost-effectively and more humanely (that is, in a way that the rest of the world benefits as well, one of Gordo's favourite things, at least he -says- it is). Since the late 1970s, a group in the US has worked voluntarily on complete healthcare systems: http://www.hardhats.org/history/hardhats.html
and these systems (there's a variety of different flavours) are now extensively open-sourced. Here's a couple of examples:
http://medsphere.org/index.jspa
http://worldvista.org/news/worldvista-receives-2007-linux-medical-news-f...
These particular ones still use MUMPS and would therefore benefit from some recoding, but still a lot less than £12bn to spend and the benefits would be spread everywhere.

Here's one in beta that has spent some time and money on recoding and has HL7 and SNOMED integration:
http://www.clear-health.com/content/view/41/51/
Oh! Here's another: http://www.openemr.net/what_is.jsp

Incidentally, I've no doubt that there's extra work to be done (the organisation of the financials in the US is quite different, for example, there's an emphasis on billing to insurers etc.) but there is not £12bn AND the benefits are universal. That is, if 'we' improve open source software, it's improved for everyone. That's what we want don't we? Well the answer is yes, as long as we are not part of the Whitehall/Westminster vested interest bubble.