The Hayes principles: learning from the national pilot of information technology and core generalisable theory in informatics

Inform Prim Care. 2010;18(2):73-7. doi: 10.14236/jhi.v18i2.756.


Background: There has been much criticism of the NHS national programme for information technology (IT); it has been an expensive programme and some elements appear to have achieved little. The Hayes report was written as an independent review of health and social care IT in England.

Objective: To identify key principles for health IT implementation which may have relevance beyond the critique of NHS IT.

Outcome: We elicit ten principles from the Hayes report, which if followed may result in more effective IT implementation in health care. They divide into patient-centred, subsidiarity and strategic principles. The patient-centred principles are: 1) the patient must be at the centre of all information systems; 2) the provision of patient-level operational data should form the foundation - avoid the dataset mentality; 3) store health data as close to the patient as possible; 4) enable the patient to take a more active role with their health data within a trusted doctor-patient relationship. The subsidiarity principles set out to balance the local and health-system-wide needs: 5) standardise centrally - patients must be able to benefit from interoperability; 6) provide a standard procurement package and an approved process that ensures safety standards and provision of interoperable systems; 7) authorise a range of local suppliers so that health providers can select the system best meeting local needs; 8) allow local migration from legacy systems, as and when improved functionality for patients is available. And finally the strategic principles: 9) evaluate health IT systems in terms of measureable benefits to patients; 10) strategic planning of systems should reflect strategic goals for the health of patients/the population.

Conclusions: Had the Hayes principles been embedded within our approach to health IT, and in particular to medical record implementation, we might have avoided many of the costly mistakes with the UK national programme. However, these principles need application within the modern IT environment. Closeness to the patient must not be interpreted as physical but instead as a virtual patient-centred space; data will be secure within the cloud and we should dump the vault and infrastructure mentality. Health IT should be developed as an adaptive ecosystem.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Information Systems / organization & administration*
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration
  • State Medicine / organization & administration*
  • United Kingdom