UK National Health Service: locked and loaded for the next 60 years

Exterior photograph of Hospital

This week I'm traveling in the UK.  My first stop was in Glasgow, Scotland, to address IT executives from NHS Scotland who were holding a meeting at Golden Jubilee Hospital.  The hospital, originally built by Arab business interests as a private hospital, was purchased by NHS Scotland and now serves as a cardiac center of excellence.  The facility is contemporary, clean and has every possible amenity for patients and visitors including a very nice hotel.


My second stop was in Reading, England, to provide the opening keynote for Microsoft's NHS CIO Summit.  The NHS is Microsoft's single largest customer.  They have standardized on our platform, information worker solutions, and unified communications stack for 850,000 NHS employees.  The agreement makes these tools and technologies available to all NHS staff both at work and at home.  Our relationship with the NHS is also bolstered by a joint, multi-year initiative to create a common user interface for clinical and administrative systems used by NHS employees.  As you might imagine, having a common user interface to clinical systems across the entire NHS landscape, in every facility, will dramatically improve patient safety, staff productivity, and caregiver satisfaction. 

In my keynote address, I pointed out that the most innovative and progressive uses of information technology in American healthcare tend to be found in organizations that function as both providers and payers of care such as Kaiser, Group Health Cooperative, or UPMC.  In such organizations, there's an incentive to provision care in the most medically appropriate, expedient and cost effective manner with a focus on prevention.  This means if a member's need for information or medical services can be addressed just as safely and effectively with an instant message, e-mail, phone call, tele-consultation, or e-visit as could be accomplished by means of a face-to-face traditional office visit, that's exactly what will be done.  No waiting for an appointment, taking time off work, driving somewhere, waiting in an exam room, etc. just for a simple bit of information or reassurance from your doctor.  Typically, these organizations are also leading the way in making electronic medical record systems securely accessible to patients who are interested in maintaining a personal health record.  They are also doing some of the best work in preventive health services, home monitoring, and chronic disease management.

image The NHS is celebrating its 60 birthday.  I pointed out to NHS leaders in both Scotland and England, that like their American managed cared counterparts, they are ideally positioned to lead the world in provisioning health information, medical care and services, but for every citizen in their country, not just to members of a particular hospital or health plan.  Essentially, the NHS is a system that looks very much like a Group Health, Kaiser or UPMC, only very much larger.  The NHS is also a system that now has all the tools and technologies needed to provision information, care, and services using exactly the most appropriate modality; whether in a hospital, clinic, physician's office, patient's home, or "virtually" on the Internet.  The only limiting factors are perhaps organizational inertia and the challenges associated with changing and modernizing well ingrained cultures and behaviors of clinicians and clinical practice.

I believe the NHS is not only locked and loaded for the next 60 years, but it is in excellent position to lead the world by example in the application and use of information technology to improve the health of all citizens.

Bill Crounse, MD    Senior Director, Worldwide Health    Microsoft Corporation

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Comments (11)
  1. Adding a new link to the blog roll today…I try to feature articles from all over the blog world and

  2. Matthew Holt says:

    I don’t know how much MFST is paying you Bill, but I hope it’s a hell of a lot if they’re sending you to Scotland in January!

  3. hlthblog says:


    Thanks for your comment.  The amount I’m being paid shall remain confidential.  Truth be told, Scotland was really quite pleasant.  But just in case you are worried, my next destinaton is Australia in February, where of course it is summer!

    Bill Crounse, MD


  5. hlthblog says:

    Thanks for your comment.  Although I was not able to make a stopover in Wales on this trip, I’ve visited Wales in the past and am well aware of many of the exciting health initiatives going on there.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  6. Mark D says:

    Dear Bill

    I am surprised (and perhaps hopeful as a result)by the positive tone of your comments. I guess we have high hopes of the NPfIT but have yet to see the results – perhaps you have seen a little more of what is ahead for us. We are now struggling in our hospital to implement the most basic Cerner packages, and its introduction has caused some chaos. The Cerner systems outlined in your subsequent post seem like a distant pipe dream. Good luck with the interface design.


  7. hlthblog says:


    Thanks for your comment.  I don’t mean to minimize the challenges that lie ahead for the NHS.  There is much work that needs to be done.  In my keynote last week in Reading and subsequent comments on this Blog I pointed out that the NHS, through its enterprise agreement with Microsoft, now has access to our very best and latest information worker applications, communication and collaboration technologies, and powerful tools for business and clinical analytics.  Many of these solutions can be applied to better provision health information and medical services to your citizens today and improve the satisfaction of those delivering and receiving care.  It’s not just about Cerner or any other vendor’s solutions.  It’s fundamentally about entirely new models for care delivery.  I was inspired during a dinner meeting I had with two of your NHS physician leaders.  I could see that they clearly "get it".  Progress may come in small steps, but you have at your disposal everything you need for greatness.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  8. WEL says:


    I had eye surgery and in the post-op pack was MAXIDEX drops by Alcon Labs.   Two days later I was  BLIND   Other complications are optic nerve damage, corneal damage, glaucoma and secondary infection

    To date there have been MANY    MANY   MANY return visita to the Dr.

  9. hlthblog says:


    Thanks for your comment.  While this is not a forum for negative outcomes to medical treatment, I am sympathetic to anyone who has experienced unforeseen, serious complications to medical treatment.  My thoughts are with you.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  10. WEL says:

    MAXIDEX           WARNING

    I had eye surgery and in the post-op pack was MAXIDEX(dexamethasone) drops by Alcon Labs.   Two days later I was   BLIND

    I have made MANY    MANY    MANY    MANY   returns to the clinic


    Use EPOCRATES to verify

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