The Wachter Review: A clinical analysis

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Late last year, the Department of Health and NHS England asked Dr. Robert Wachter to chair a group that would analyse the state of its health IT implementation and the factors necessary for success in the future.

Summarizing the key recommendations stemming from the review and its implications for providers and suppliers, The Wachter Review: A Clinical Analysis, is a white paper written by our clinical strategy unit at AbedGraham. Our organisation’s goal is to help maximise the positive impact of technology solutions for healthcare providers, so we’re paying close attention to The Wachter Review’s findings.

Supporting clinicians to provide better care

A theme that resonated throughout the review was the emphasis on clinical engagement. Specifically, Dr. Wachter recommended that more time and money needed to be spent supporting clinicians to become health informatics leaders. This included restructuring job contracts for Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIOs), and teams of deputies, to have more time to dedicate to informatics projects per week.

Specifically, he states that 1 percent of the £4.2bn budget earmarked for NHS digitisation should be allocated to workforce development. The white paper assesses the implications of these recommendations for the clinical community and digital transformation projects.

“Digitisation is not the end-goal, it is a means to an end,” said Dr. Wachter.

And that objective should be to improve care, not just become paperless. Being paperless is meaningless if, as a result, organisations become less efficient at delivering high-quality care.

Learning from history

One of the most widely reported recommendations from the Wachter Review was to shift the timeline for achieving a paperless NHS from 2020 to 2023. The purpose of this was to ensure that the emphasis of digitisation would be quality and outcomes rather than speed of implementation of healthcare software solutions.

The NHS is under significant pressure to demonstrate returns on investment across all projects and the white paper considers how healthcare providers can manage factors such as the ‘productivity paradox’ to enhance the benefits realised from health IT projects such as digitization. And these benefits must affect finances, operations, governance – and most importantly, patients.

Dr. Saif Abed

Dr. Abed is a medical doctor, director and corporate strategist based between London and Cambridge. He currently leads AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd supporting the delivery of clinical intelligence, strategic planning,... read more about: Dr. Saif Abed