NHS IT 'does have benefits'
Published: 6th Jul 2012 08:55:54
Great possibilities are claimed for information technology in the NHS - but the reality is very different.
In this week's Scrubbing Up Paul Curley, clinical director for IM&T at Mid-Yorks Hospitals NHS Trust, says that despite the problems, successful IT is crucial to the future of the NHS.
Information about the right patient, in the right place at the right time is the mantra frequently trotted out glibly about healthcare IT.
Huge improvements in quality and reduction in risk are claimed.
The government's recently published Information Strategy calls for patients to have access to their records by 2014.
But what does this mean? Is it just GP records? Does it refer to records in all hospitals patients have ever attended? What would such records look like? How could they be interpreted? And if they are not held electronically do we ignore them?
None of this is clear.
It is clear that the promise of Connecting for Health - the body that looks after the NHS's IT infrastructure - was attractive; similar systems up and down the country, standards for data collection, easy data exchange between healthcare workers.
But even now the success of local PACS systems (Picturing Archiving and Communication) for digital X-Rays is not mirrored by sharing through a central repository.
Does the current situation have implications for the quality of health care? Yes.
It is possible to collect and share clinical information safely, securely and to the benefit of patients”
Patients on holiday in one part of the country who fall ill cannot be assured that clinicians will have access to hospital records - or X-rays - in their home county.
Current figures for uptake of the Summary Care Record (information held electronically about medications and allergies and available nationally) show only 25% with such a record.
But what do those of us interested in this field do?
Do we keep moaning about what has not been delivered?
Or are we the best chance of delivering the potential that so many of us hoped a joined up system might realise?
I passionately believe that it is possible to collect and share clinical information safely, securely and to the benefit of patients.
I believe that clinicians in the NHS have the ingenuity and commitment to doggedly focus on the real end game - nationally available health care records for patients and clinicians.
In Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust we have scanned 200m pages of medical records and made them available across the organisation.
We have developed search functionality to find information in individual records or across multiple records and believe this is improving reliability of access to information to the benefit of patient care.
Clinicians can discuss patients whilst looking at information simultaneously in different physical locations and information is available 24/7 without moving it across large areas.
Thought is also required about security of information.
Within the NHS, healthcare workers are very aware of the importance of confidentiality and most agree that IT systems can be fundamentally more secure - and easier to control - than paper records.
Security based on a person's role can be used to limit access to records and, of course the absence of paper case notes avoids physical loss or casual access.
A solution to all of these issues needs to be developed in a new partnership.
Let industry, healthcare IT workers and clinicians solve 80% of the problems.
Release the NHS to do what it does best - innovate and deliver, often on modest budgets.
Let's get away from the huge bureaucracy, let clinicians engage meaningfully with the Department of Health and crack this issue.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. NHS IT 'does have benefits'. [Online] (Updated 06 Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/1439019-NHS-IT-does-have-benefits [Accessed 23rd May 2013]
At 11:53:48 in WorldA fourth night of unprecedented riots in Stockholm has seen unrest spread, with a restaurant and up to 40 cars burnt, police told the BBC. ...
At 11:52:40 in HeadlinesTwo suicide bombers have struck a military camp and a French-run uranium mine in two towns in north western Niger, officials say....
At 11:52:33 in WorldGeorges Moustaki, the French singer and composer who wrote Edith Piaf's 1958 hit song, Milord, has died aged 79....
At 11:48:58 in WorldAdvice to armed forces personnel not to wear uniforms in public has been relaxed, the Ministry of Defence says....
At 11:46:10 in BusinessThe UK's economy grew at 0.3% in the first three months of the year, official figures have confirmed....
At 11:44:02 in ScotlandPlans for the new bridge over the Firth of Firth are due to undergo a final hearing in front of MSPs....
At 11:42:45 in EnglandA caller to the BBC's radio station for London listened to one of the men shot by police in Woolwich exhorting people to go to Syria to...
At 11:37:44 in BusinessGlobal markets fell after weak Chinese data and worries that the US Federal Reserve may slow its monetary stimulus....
At 11:36:20 in ScotlandPolice Scotland has confirmed it is "actively seeking clarification" on the role of civilian custody staff in taking DNA and finge...
At 11:27:43 in EnglandStephen Fry is to curate this year's Deloitte Ignite festival at the Royal Opera House exploring the work of the Giuseppe Verdi and Ric...
News In Other Categories
Ministers are failing to properly monitor the salaries and professional standards of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), MPs have warned....
Tuition fees in England could be limited to £6,000 per year and remain cost-neutral to universities and the Treasury, a study commissioned b...
Google has acquired a US company that generates power using turbines mounted on tethered kites or wings....
The UK's economy grew at 0.3% in the first three months of the year, official figures have confirmed....
The Welsh government has announced the end of its intervention in the running of Anglesey council. ...
Stephen Fry is to curate this year's Deloitte Ignite festival at the Royal Opera House exploring the work of the Giuseppe Verdi and Ric...