Purpose – To consider how information and information systems can be used to support improving patient flow in acute hospitals (a key target for the National Health Service in England), and the potential role of the National Programme for Information Technology currently being developed. Design/methodology/approach – The literature plus past and present research, teaching and consulting experience with all levels of the National Health Service is drawn on to consider information provision and requirements. Findings – The National Programme for Information Technology specifies many features designed to support improving patient flows, though timescales for implementation are longer than those for the pledged flow improvements, and operational use of this type of information system has been problematic in the National Health Service. Research limitations/implications – The work is limited to the National Health Service and information systems in use and planned for it. The National Health Service access targets, flow improvement initiatives and the National Programme for Information Technology apply primarily to England. Practical implications – Some bed/flow management information systems currently in use incorporate tools and capabilities in advance of what is outlined in the National Programme for Information Technology, and some rare cases of culture changes in information system use have been achieved. One should learn from these to inform development and implementation of National Programme systems. These existing information systems and approaches may also be useful to hospitals considering systems prior to implementation of the National Programme for Information Technology. Originality/value – There has been very little consideration of the use of operational information and information systems for bed/flow management in the literature. Development and implementation of National Programme for Information Technology systems should build from an understanding of the practice and context of bed/flow management.
Journal of Health Organisation and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2005
Keywords: Hospitals; Information systems; National Health Service; United Kingdom
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