7th Mackenzie Lecture

Mackenzie Lectures are hosted annually by the Health Informatics Centre in honour of Sir James Mackenzie, a pioneer in research in general practice and the safe use of medicines.

This year’s Mackenzie Lecture was given by Professsor Trisha Greenhalgh who spoke on 'Why National eHealth Programs Need Dead Philosophers: Wittgensteinian Reflections on Policymakers' Reluctance to Learn from History'

Policymakers seeking to introduce national eHealth programs would be advised to study comparable examples from elsewhere. Many lessons can be learned from England’s National Programme for IT. National eHealth programs unfold as they do partly because no-one fully understands what is going on. They fail when this lack of understanding becomes mission-critical. Detailed analyses of the fortunes of these programs, narrativized (as in-depth case studies) to illuminate the contextualized talk and action (“language games”) of multiple stakeholders, offer unique and important insights.

Such accounts set the stage for productive debate around the complex, interdependent social practices of which eHealth programs consist.  The complexity of contemporary healthcare combined with the multiple stakeholders in large technology initiatives means that national eHealth programs require considerably more thinking through than has sometimes occurred.  We need fewer grand plans and more learning communities.

The seventh Mackenzie Lecture was held on Tuesday 15 May 2012 and was introduced by Professor Frank Sullivan, Head of Population Health Sciences.

Click here for slides.