HIT across the pond: On the call with Dr. Charles Gutteridge

National Clinical Director for Informatics, Department of Health, United Kingdom

Dr. Charles Gutteridge, Chief Clinical Information Officer, Barts Health NHS Trust

When we spoke with Dr. Charles Gutteridge, former National Clinical Director for Informatics, Department of Health, United Kingdom, and currently Chief Clinical Information Officer, Barts Health NHS Trust, we learned not only about some of the historical differences between healthcare IT in England and the United States, but also how both countries’ practices and policies are evolving toward a more common ground. 

Some of the topics that he outlined included:

  • a brief history of healthcare IT in the U.K.;
  • the troublesome U.K. mentality of seeing technology as a barrier to healthcare;
  • the rise of patient leaders in the United States;
  • how younger healthcare professionals demonstrate a broader and more accepting attitude toward IT;
  • the complexity of achieving interoperability;
  • how Cerner’s HIE solution positively impacted his own career and the lives of his patients and
  • the current “drivers of change” who create his optimism for the future of healthcare IT worldwide.

(Editor’s note: To hear audio excerpts of this interview, click on the media player buttons that run throughout this article.)

I. The long and winding road of England’s healthcare IT

Gutteridge offers a brief history of healthcare IT in England. While listing some differences with healthcare IT in the United States and England, he also gives his perspective of what he views as the initial shortcomings of the United Kingdom’s national HIT initiatives. Gutteridge closes his answer, however, by stating the great promise he sees in his country’s current efforts to create more efficient healthcare IT systems.  

 

II. The U.K. mentality that technology can be a barrier to “proper” healthcare

When asked if some within Britain’s healthcare system have the mindset that technology often stands in the way of “proper” healthcare, Gutteridge answers that face-to-face medical interactions should incorporate as much technology as possible. To do otherwise, he states, would only perpetuate historically patriarchal dynamics within healthcare. He then lauds the potential benefits of a lifetime health record as well as his admiration for emerging patients leaders in the United States.

 

III. The changing state of interoperability

Gutteridge suggests that interoperability has been difficult to achieve in healthcare because the process is far more complex than many fully appreciate. However, he states the industry is working toward interoperability in better ways than before. According to Gutteridge, younger generations within the industry have the broader mindset and skills needed to tackle successfully an issue like interoperability. Gutteridge then details how Cerner’s HIE solution positively impacted his own career and how “the language of interoperation” helps his patients. 

 

IV. A bright view of the future

Gutteridge closes our conversation with his insights regarding the current “drivers of change” who are pushing healthcare IT in profound manners that cannot yet be fully understood.

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