By most commentators' estimations, healthcare IT lags that of other sectors, in maturity terms, by a decade or more. This situation has been created by decades of underinvestment. More recent effort in England to inject £billions into healthcare IT procurement have simply reinforced the entrenched positions of the incumbent suppliers who wield monolithic architectures based on outmoded service models. In fact, most of the circumstantial evidence shows that the 'investment' in English healthcare IT has squeezed the very start-ups who were the new lifeblood.
The rearchitecting of IT is what the sector needs to enable the new models required to balance the rising expectations of consumers against the downward pressure on the public purse. More focus needs to be placed on interoperability of loosely coupled components and useability than on further bloating the feature sets of systems breeding their own information silos.
So, what difference will, by very conservative estimations, several billion USD from China make? Well, the early signs are promising with comments from IBM's Labs, who are one of the few major players who have made serious attempts to implement open standards at scale. However, there is still an overriding fear that the opportunity in China might be squandered if a procurement approach is taken which fails to ignite the marketplace. Those of us who want to buy our IT from a fertile, imaginative and interoperable marketplace have our fingers crossed.