Open access to interface specifications and example data for all healthcare IT systems funded by the NHS would enable innovation and quality improvement in the health service. It is a cheap and effective policy option, aligned with current politics.
It is reasonable that access to healthcare data should be controlled on behalf of the patient -- but open access to the specifications and example data will help to create a vibrant marketplace in healthcare IT systems - which is in the interests of patients, clinicians, the NHS and that UK economy.
The second step would be to insist that all vendors who want to be funded by the NHS meet very basic minimum data standards. Yes, the NHS Commissioning Board is to look at standards, but giving a clear recommendation would avoid re-inventing the wheel. The third step would be to insist that all vendors publish clear, usable Application Programming Interfaces. No API, no funds."
The next step would be to establish open statements saying what has to be done to connect to these interfaces - including the certification criteria and costs. But getting from where we are to a vibrant market will not be done in one step, so get the APIs published first so that people can create viable and valuable products, then simplify the environment for buying and selling them.
By Charlie McCay