Today’s software is helping the NHS to integrate existing data and maximise ROEI

That could return on existing investment (ROEI) look like? The key is to implement integration so businesses are aligned with IT systems and strategies. Providing a virtual view of all databases enables decision-makers to access the information they need without having to rip out their previous IT investments.

Take the example of Chris Carrigan, national co-ordinator for England at the National Cancer Action Team. “We are using Ensemble to implement new services to pull in new information but support old services,” he says.

Collating vital information

Carrigan told MIS UK how three of the country’s nine regional cancer registries, Thames Cancer Registry, Merseyside and Cheshire Cancer Registry, and North West Cancer Registry, have initiated a pilot programme to integrate, validate and manage information from literally hundreds of data sources.

The idea is to transform raw data on cancer trends, prevention and care into information so that it can be used by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), GPs, hospices and charities, the Office for National Statistics, and the Department of Health. The system also needs to integrate with national services, especially around and in the NHS National Programme for IT (Connecting for Health programme).

Ensemble is being used to automatically sort, clean and collate data from multiple sources and formats (email, health industry format HL7, XML or CSV files).

By using Ensemble as the basis for the project, he adds, all three registries are able to give their data a quality and efficiency boost that is providing these organisations with more meaningful intelligence on cancer incidence, prevalence and survival. This provides a serious enhancement to this critically important public service.

“The project will ultimately benefit all aspects of cancer control by enabling the faster generation of reports and statistics using more contemporary data,” he adds.

Healthy IT systems

Another UK health user of Ensemble is The London NHS Trust, which has chosen Ensemble for use at its three hospitals in East London and the City, The Royal London, St Bartholomew’s and The London Chest Hospital. Ensemble is being used to address a range of projects across the three sites, as well as providing integration with the new (NPfIT again) NHS Care Records Service (NHS CRS).

Its head of software development Mike Eagles told MIS UK: “Our aim wasn’t to produce new applications but use the system to allow existing apps to work with the new NPfIT structure. We are essentially chucking out some things but want to keep core lab, cardiac and cancer systems, for instance, and reintegrate them with the new core ones. Yes, you could do this other ways but Ensemble is good value and well supported by the vendor and is proving useful.”

Can integration and ROEI come together and produce added value for customers? At least some organisations seem to be saying yes. What is key is to realise that in 2006 no realistic IT programme can function without accommodating not just recent software, but some of all the billions of dollars of existing IT investment we as advanced societies have already made.

That intellectual property can and should be used – and exploited. That, ultimately, is the definition of return on existing investment.