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How to Solve Almost Any Problem by Alan Barker

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Chapter 7

Treating headaches: what to do when problems become wicked

In 2003, the UK government instigated the National Programme for IT, a scheme designed to link over 30,000 GPs and 300 hospitals in the country. The project was budgeted at £6 billion and was to include, among other things, an online booking system, a centralized medical records system for 50 million patients, e-prescriptions and fast computer network links between NHS organizations. By 2006, two years into the project’s 10-year lifespan, a group of academics was calling for an independent review. A journalist at the time wrote:

“Technology is still seen as just another form of engineering. But IT systems are not like bridges – they are a tool, not an entity. ... Technology ...

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