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Standards promote commodity products

A recent report by The Network for the Post Bureaucratic Age calls on the government to use commodity products and services wherever possible. This will help to control costs, quality and responsiveness by encouraging platforms upon which commodity services can be sold. The "Innovate, Leverage, Commoditise" model recommended proposes something beyond the NHS "Do once and share", as it recommends that small scale investments be encouraged, and successful reuse be tracked and promoted, within an overall open ecosystem. This is consistent with a "fail early, fail often" approach encouraging small commodity innovations. Those that do succeed can then be rolled out across the standard platforms.

This vision assumes that there is a network of standards providing the fabric for the platforms - so that successful products really can be rolled out. That in turn is something that HL7UK, HL7 international and the other standards bodies can contribute to.

The document assumes that open source is the key to success here. The basis for that is not clear to me. There is a strong case for commodity - but there also needs to be a business model that sustains the development and maintenance of the commodities. Those business models should not be restricted to open source.

By Charlie McCay