Headlines: April 21st, 2005

A new survey says much more needs to be done to educate healthcare IT professionals about how their existing systems can be integrated to support new initiatives in the short, medium and in some cases long term. The study shows that while the Connecting for Health initiative is making progress there is still room for significant improvement.The survey, commissioned by software company WRQ®, found that two thirds of IT professionals working for healthcare organisations believe the integration of legacy applications is either, ‘essential’ or ‘valuable’. But it also shows that of those fewer than half – just 44 per cent – were currently in the process of integrating their legacy systems.

This, the company says, demonstrates an ongoing need for organisations to be shown the ease of unlocking the potential of information found in legacy systems and that significant improvement is required to educate IT specialists about integration of systems.

WRQ says the figures point to legacy systems still being critical. It says the opportunity to unlock data and integrate processes offers tremendous value, particularly for public sector organizations working within budget constraints. The survey also highlights the fact that there is room for productivity improvements across the healthcare sector with 22 per cent of respondents stating that accessing green-screen legacy applications is currently a time consuming process. More than a quarter went on to say the average time spent by healthcare workers accessing information via green-screen terminals was more than two hours each day.

Paul O’Connell, head of WRQ UK said the survey showed just how important legacy systems were. But he added, “It is disconcerting to note that of those who have not already integrated their applications, nearly half have a fear of the disruption and slightly less have a fear of cost. Organisations simply need to know how to unlock the potential of their legacy systems as it’s a much more cost-effective option when compared to ripping out and replacing them.” It was imperative, he said, that as accountable public sector body, the healthcare industry was seen to be delivering an efficient and effective service to its customers.