Tory NHS IT plans must not create even more expense, the NHS Confederation has warned.
Instead, organisations would be able to pick from a “catalogue” of IT systems, all of which would be able to communicate with each other.
Instead of being held on a single “spine”, as under the existing national programme, electronic health records would be stored at GP surgeries and hospitals, the Conservatives said.
The announcement followed the publication of an independent review commissioned by shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien.
As well as reforming the national programme, he said, the Conservatives would allow patients to access and potentially alter their own health records on the internet, using existing systems such as those designed by Microsoft, Google and a US consortium including BP and Wal-Mart.
The cost and effectiveness of the national programme, and the health record, has been heavily criticised for several years.
Mr O’Brien said: “The proposals we are setting out will secure a better deal for taxpayers and will make sure the NHS has the technology it needs to deliver world-class healthcare for patients.”
NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett welcomed the proposal to set national standards but give choice to local organisations.
However, he said: “Any radical change in direction will have to satisfy concerns over the security of data, the cost of a new approach and the skills mix of people working in the NHS.”
It is unclear how much it would cost to end or renegotiate the existing BT and CSC contracts.
Mr Barnett said: “Major structural changes to the project should only be considered if it can be shown they will save money rather than generate extra costs.”