NHS Trusts: Paying too much for IT?

The typical NHS Trust is a complex organisation with an IT infrastructure that spans multiple departments often within multiple sites and supports both internal and remote staff.

IT costs are always an issue and never more than now. Against this backdrop of tightening budgets, Trust CxOs are constantly looking for ways of analysing and lowering their cost base.

In response to these issues, we have just completed a survey designed to provide some insight and solutions.

The survey, completed in March 2011, was conducted across the NHS in England and involved over 60 Trusts from smaller acute trusts to large teaching hospitals.

Comparisons were then made between the Trusts themselves, and also with peer organisations (those of a similar size and IT environment) in the NHS generally and across the commercial sector using this benchmarking database.

Above-average costs

So far, the study has delivered up a wealth of insights, both expected and unexpected. Overall, there was a greater than anticipated intricacy and range of infrastructure costs and deployment models amongst the respondents.

One of the more surprising insights was the fact that there seemed to be little, if any, relationship between IT support costs and the overall size or complexity of the facility.

While nearly one-third of the Trusts have an above-average population of IT users there appears to be little correlation between operational costs and the user count.

What is clear, however, is that a total of 40 per cent of the Trusts have above-average operational spend per user (IT Services to maintain the operation and services) as measured against the NHS average and cross-industry data.

On the face of it, it is tempting to attribute these above-the-norm costs to overstaffing, waste and other management and technology shortfalls.

However, equating high costs with inefficiency can be misleading because it doesn't take into account the many variables that impact IT infrastructure costs in healthcare.

These range from supporting complex networking technologies through to storage services designed to improve data transfers between consultants and radiology departments to comprehensive service support.

This is the mission-critical domain that many NHS Trust CIOs operate in. Frequently they are not allowed to settle for the average standard and must be prepared to pay a premium to deliver high quality.

1 2 Page 1
Page 1 of 2
7 secrets of successful remote IT teams