Doctors doubt NHS IT revamp, survey says

The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) is defending its IT restructuring program after a new survey found doctors in clinics were not well informed and had little enthusiasm about it.

The study, conducted by the research company Medix UK PLC and released Tuesday, was commissioned by several publications, including the Guardian and the Financial Times.

Medix has conducted six surveys since 2003 gauging physicians sentiment toward the IT program.

The research company reported that 1,329 doctors responded. The survey noted among its findings that two years ago, 56 percent of general practitioners and 75 percent of other doctors were fairly enthusiastic about Department of Health’s National Program for IT (NPfIT). Those figures, according to the latest survey, have dropped to 26 and 45 percent, respectively.

Only 38 percent of general practitioners now agree that the IT program is an important priority, down from 67 percent three years ago, the study said.

In a statement on its Web site, the NHS said Medix inevitably picked out the most negative items in its overview. The agency said it has been strengthening links with professional bodies through clinical advisory groups and attends conferences to increase communication on its initiatives.

The NHS said there is usually a “dip in confidence” in new IT programs, but confidence rises with familiarity. The agency noted parts of the survey were also positive, such as the view of 59 percent of general practitioners and 66 percent of hospital doctors that clinical care will be significantly improved by NPfIT.

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