Why is so little linked up in healthcare?

Health systems don’t need replacing, they need connecting. Historically the NHS has often built bespoke local systems. These didn’t always link up easily, so the passage of data across the whole organisation has been patchy. Software, systems and processes need common specifications, frameworks and implementations. This will enable data to be shared nationally and not just held within local, ring-fenced networks build on proprietary foundations. How can it be done?

Posted by Brian Andrew Runciman on 29th Nov 2016
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Comments (4)

Mike Broomhead

01 April 2017

Consent & information management.

In comparison, everything else is small - sure there's a cost for HIE or other interoperability but would have been done by now if not for the inability to share responsibility appropriately.

Leonard Keighley

29 March 2017

Whenever this subject is raised there seems to be always two elements to what the general perception of "Health Care Computing" covers, these are the use of IT to actually provide ‘hands on’ health care treatment and the use of IT to generally administer health care.

The former. "Health Care Technology" is obviously at the cutting edge of Technology (I decline to use the usual designation of IT to cover this as, strictly speaking, Information Technology is only a small part of that function and may not even play a part in it) in its widest sense, and is driven by R&D, ROI and the successful outcome of the actual treatment. This seems to me to be very much the domain of the Clinician with the help of the Technologist to support the development of the necessary involvement of technology in the treatment. I feel that there are very few IT Professionals that could contribute in a significant way to this area, except perhaps covering any "information processing" that the treatment might require. I also feel that it is in this area where the NHS is performing to the best of its ability and is probably in line with the rest of the world.

The latter, "Health Care IT" is much more the poor relation regarding the IT/Technology services available within the NHS, or even wider than that i.e. all health providers in the UK. Sadly, and from my experience, this is where the aggravation is to the patient when confronted with the inadequacies of the health communities’ IT Admin systems. E.g. appointments booking, patient records, etc. These cannot, must not, be provided in a piecemeal manner, it must be a UK wide standard service that can be accessed from anywhere via any mechanism. This, to my mind, is standard, day in day out, IT work and 80% of IT professionals will understand what is needed.

All the coverage I have seen so far focuses on the former, “Health Care Computing” because that’s where the interest lies for a wide range of reasons.

Leonard Keighley

29 March 2017

However, all my 45 years of IT experience cannot help with that, it can, however, help with the “Health Care IT” area.

My view would be that BCS should try to bring these differences to the attention of society as part of the ‘Making IT good for Society’ banner. Until that understanding exists attention will be focussed on “Health Care Computing” to the detriment of “Heath Care IT” and the customer, i.e. the patient, will continue to see IT in the service of health as failing.

BCS also needs to lead, again as part of ‘Making IT good for Society’, the debate about the sharing of patient information. The arguments made here concerning the issues regarding this are a complete nonsense. There seems to be a desire to make this far more secure than any IT system currently in operation, why? This security requirement has been left to the service provider in other areas of life, e.g. Banking and in our current social media centric society, the information freely made available via those means is far more personal and extensive than patient records. Further, a large part of patient information is available nationwide to what could be considered as largely un-monitored companies. Boots the Chemist holds details of prescriptions they process at a patient level which can be accessed from an Boots store in the UK. From that information, I am sure it will be possible to understand what condition a patient is being treated for. The private medical insurance companies, not to mention travel and life insurance companies, also hold high levels of medical information.

Stuart Andrew Adamson

18 January 2017

For me, we need to think about the commercial aspects of healthcare. If I make a lot of money selling a treatment, what is the incentive for me to look at prevention and work with others toward this goal? Perhaps we need to think about identifying new opportunities in the diagnosis, prognosis and preventative medical/healthcare fields, and work there.

For example, a lot of people spend a lot of money on dietary supplements - do we see a resultant decrease in the incidence of chronic dietary conditions for years to come, or is any benefit more than offset through the increased consumption of heavily processed foods?

Food for thought, maybe.