A London NHS trust has got itself a new shiny IT system that it hopes will help it meet government targets on patient referral-to-treatment times.
The University College London Hospital (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust is rolling out a patient tracking system from long-time IT partner LogicaCMG. The software is designed to keep track on when a patient is referred for treatment, and raise the alarm with the trust's managers if it looks as if the patient is going to miss the government's 18-week target.
Policy makers in Whitehall have said no patient should wait longer than 18 weeks to start treatment from the time they are referred by their GP. NHS Trusts have until December 2008 to make sure they meet the target.
It is undeniably admirable that the UCLH trust wants to meet government targets on waiting times, and that the government wants to reduce waiting times. But isn't it all starting to feel a bit circular? We're now deploying technology to make sure we meet targets, rather than specifically focusing on patient care. The league table is all.
Not quite, according to James Thomas, IT director at UCLH. In the press blurb, he says that the system will allow the trust to intervene in urgent cases much more quickly.
"The new patient tracking solution not only enables us to better manage our clinical pathways and resources, but also helps us improve the patient experience by reducing uncertainty in the scheduling of treatments," he said. ®