Chris Netherton, M.D.

Health Minister highlights the challenge for healthcare IT providers


In a recent keynote speech, Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, firmly stated the importance of ensuring that IT suppliers’ interests were fully aligned with those of the NHS. He said it was imperative for suppliers to fully embrace data sharing by adopting common standards. We couldn’t agree more.

I have outlined in previous blogs that this will be a crucial year in the development of IT systems for Primary Care and why this is therefore a vital time for suppliers to step up to the plate and deliver. In my last blog, I also described how interoperability of systems has now become the top priority for IT Leaders working within the NHS. So we should all applaud the fact that the new minister is throwing his weight behind this issue.

At Microtest, we have been working closely with clinicians in the NHS for over 30 years. Their input and feedback play a crucial role in the development of all our key software products, as does the trialling and testing that we do with them before any product becomes available nationally.

I have always been a very strong champion of interoperability of systems. The future of healthcare will be about interoperability between systems and ever closer working between organizations and departments. Open and integrated working delivers better patient care and also important savings in cost and efficiency. This scenario is a positive and exciting one.

It is this commitment that has driven our close involvement with NHS leaders on the innovations that are needed to make interoperability a reality. For example, Microtest was the first IT supplier to sign up to GP Connect and the first to develop, design and deliver a purpose-built GP Connect solution. We have in-depth experience of interoperability through the development of our award-winning Guru, the UK’s most advanced patient record sharing system.

So Microtest has already seen first-hand some of the great benefits for patients in this new era of interoperability.

The emergence of apps are helping people to take more control of their own health

Meanwhile, there is another significant IT trend that is making a difference to healthcare and will continue to do so in future – the emergence of apps and software that help people take more control of their own health.

As a society, we need to move to a position where people take a much more proactive role in keeping themselves healthy and preventing potential health issues from developing into chronic problems. IT will be an important catalyst in helping make this happen which is why we are working hard and investing heavily into the development of our new clinical system Open Evolution which is becoming renowned nationally for being the most technically advanced clinical system based on cutting edge technology and built on national interoperability standards.

So we welcome Matt Hancock’s comments and the fact that the government is championing the importance of IT at the very heart of the NHS.

At Microtest, we are rising to the Minister’s call and looking forward to the many further technological challenges that healthcare IT providers will face over the coming decade.