Open Letter to UK’s NHS IT Director

Responding to this article at e-health-media.com, Tim Cook has written an open letter to the newly named Director of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service: ‘…Considering your lack of direct exposure to healthcare information systems I assume you will be choosing an experienced team to advise you? Maybe some people from the BCS HIC and of course the people on the PRIMIS project have first hand knowledge of the problems with interfacing healthcare systems and data export/import. I also trust that you have an open mind about open source software as well. Cliches such as “no one has ever been fired for buying Microsoft” may not be true for much longer…

Dear Mr. Granger,

I read with great interest of your appointment as the Director General of NHS IT. For several years I have looked to the UK NHS as the world leader in healthcare IT deployments. The NHS has been a great source of information and inspiration for those of us who desire to learn from history.

Certainly your experience in working with divergent systems will be invaluable in establishing national standards and bringing together the various systems. There is a great need to be able to not only share information between systems. The ability to do something as simple as move a patient record from GP to another, while maintaining the context integrity of the record would be wonderful.

Considering your lack of direct exposure to healthcare information systems I assume you will be choosing an experienced team to advise you? Maybe some people from the BCS HIC and of course the people on the PRIMIS project have first hand knowledge of the problems with interfacing healthcare systems and data export/import.

I also trust that you have an open mind about open source software as well. Cliches such as “no one has ever been fired for buying Microsoft” may not be true for much longer. While many endusers and especially those that are active in the open source healthcare community have known of these security weaknesses. knowingly using software that exposes private patient data to disclosure has to be a violation of the RFA. Isn’t it?

In the hustle and bustle of changing jobs you may have missed this statement by Microsoft Senior VP Windows Development; “I’m not proud,” he told delegates yesterday (5 September). “We really haven’t done everything we could to protect our customers. Our products just aren’t engineered for security,” admitted Valentine, who since 1998 has headed Microsoft’s Windows division. (see Computer Weekly article).

Again, congratulations on your appointment. I am certain I speak for a large portion of the healthcare IT community in saying that we are very interested in hearing about the direction you intend to take.

Also note that the Open Source Healthcare Alliance annual meeting is November 14 – 16 at UCLA in Los Angles CA, USA. We would be honored to have you present your vision of NHS IT at this event.

Sincerely,

Tim Cook
Open Paradigms

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