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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New conference blogs

Following the success of the HC2005 blog, we are experimenting further with blogs at other health informatics events as a collaborative form of providing reports and events and a form of virtual interaction/participation.

SINI2005 (the Summer Institute in Nursing Informatics, organised by the University of Maryland School of Nursing, and to be held in Baltimore, USA, on 20-23 July 2005) now has a blog. The SINI2005 blog is at and provides opportunity to find out what is happening at the event.

A blog is also in the early stages of development for MIE2005 (the XIX International Congress of the European Federation for Medical Informatics, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 28 August - 1 September, 2005). The MIE2005 blog will be developed at

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Working with NHS Connecting for Health & iSOFT in Hydrabad & IDX in Seattle

British Computer Society (BCS) Nursing Specialist Group

The British Computer Society Nursing Specialist Group has recieved a request from Heather Tierney-Moore (Nursing Clinical Lead for NPfIT) for experienced NHS clinicians and practitioners to have a presence in either Seattle or Hyderabad to advise on system functionality, to shortcut the questioning of design issues and help with fix resolution as systems are developed. Volunteers should be able to gain an understanding of progress in each of the locations and during their assignment provide CfH with an objective assessment of progress, problems and issues.

The preference is for long term detachments but, failing that, the objective can be achieved by a series of relatively short term visits. Assignments will need to be tailored to meet the needs and experience of the individual volunteer and it is therefore not possible to provide precise information about what individuals will be asked to do at this stage. However, a typical commitment might require the volunteer to spend a minimum of two weeks in either of the locations and then return to either the same or a different location and development area for a second similar period two or three weeks later. Terms of reference for each deployment will be agreed before departure. Secondments to CfH, if appropriate, will be arranged on the same terms as clinicians who currently undertake work on the National Programme.

Further details and contact information are available on the NSG web page.

This seems like a good way to get "end users" involved in the development and testing of the software which is being developed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

ITIN - BCS NSG Journal - Contents Vol 17 No 2

ITIN - BCS NSG Journal - Contents Vol 17 No 2

The latest issue of ITIN The official journal of the British Computer Society Nursing Specialist Group has been published.

The table of contents is shown below. Further information about the journal is available from

Editorial: Denis Anthony p1

Chair’s update: Richard Hayward p2

Report of meeting with Heather Tierney-Moore p3-5 (full text available in html)

HC2005 satellite session: Peter J. Murray p6-7

The Use of N4 in a Grounded Theory Study: Vico Chiang p8-17

Announcements p18

News: News editor Sue Kinn p19-25 (full text available in PDF)

An interview with Dr Rifat Latifi: Bob Pyke p26-28

Simultaneously with the publication of this issue we are making the full text of the research article from the previous issue available online see:

Use of email by health-care workers in a mental health setting by Pepita Stringer & Heather Wharrad

If you would like to receive this table of contents service as an email when the journal is published please go to: and fill in your email address in the subscribe box.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

NHS Connecting for Health Annual Report 2004-05 - A brave new world ?

NHS Connecting for Health Annual Report 2004-05

NHS Conecting for Health has published "A review of the year 2004-05 highlighting achievements in delivery and engagement" and it seems to me more like a glossy brochure selectively trumpeting it's successes than a true annual report giving both positive and negative aspects. Let's hope that the reference number 1984 which has been allocated to the document is not prophetic!

Perhaps this is what Richard Granger meant when he insisted at the HC conference in Harrogate in March that the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) must be credited for it's achievement and not knocked for it's weaknesses.

His introduction gives an overview of some of the work undertaken in the 2 years so far on the "digitisation of the NHS". Terms such as the "NHS information illiquidity problem" will I'm sure enter everyone's lexicon, and perhaps provides a modern example of doublespeak. Other areas could be considered as glossing over some of the barriers which are emerging eg the number of NHS staff registering with "the spine" being over 5000 per week which sounds impressive - but even at that rate registering all staff in the NHS is likely to take 3-4 years.

There are several claims throughout the document, not just about the potential clinical and managerial benefits which NHS Connecting for Health (sometimes colloquially known as NHS Con), will bring but also about financial savings which will emerge. eGov Monitor have picked this up saying:

"Another development from the annual report, not thought to have been previously announced, is its claim that central purchasing of core systems and services will save the NHS in England an estimated £3.8 bn over 10 years."

It is not clear how this figure has been arrived at - presumably by central purchasing at a national level rather than local contracts - but if those contracts were not needed except to comply with the NPfIT standards, then it is a nebulous saving.

Another financial feature mentioned is about the mechanisms to collect data for the Quality Management and Analysis System (QMAS) for GPs, where the involvement of the NHS Bank is highlighted. I thought the remit of the NHS Bank was to be responsible for allocating the special assistance fund, which provides grants to SHAs with particular financial difficulties, but this seems now to include QMAS payments to GP surgeries.

Towards the end of the document there is a feature on the efforts to win the "hearts and minds" of NHS staff - which is rightly seen as one of the biggest challenges for the programme. It includes a quote from Alan Burns, service implementation director, who says "If you just computerise what you do, its not worth the effort", which I think could be read in several different ways!

Social care is mentioned in a column on the Care Record Development Board (CRDB), but hardly rates a mention in the rest of the document. The integration of health and social care records, and working practices, is potentially another major challenge for this work and seems to be being put off, to be dealt with later, rather than being addressed in the early procuremnet and implementation phases.

The involvement of patients and the public is also mentioned, although it appears this report may have gone to press before the publication of the 12 commitments in the Care Record Guarantee

Education and training is mentioned several times in connection with different projects eg Choose and Book & PACS systems, however it is not clear how pilot sites which are receiving "extensive support from the centre" are to achieve the necessary increase the knowledge and skills in their own staff, let alone other NHS organisations which do not have such extensive support. It is also not clear how the relationship between the NHS and Higher Education will be advanced, or whether online resources and demonstrations will also be available to those working and studying in the education sector.

Mention is made of the deal with Microsoft for desktop licences and a "consistent interface" across the NHS, which may reduce the training need and save staff time - but it doesn't say how tying the NHS to Microsoft for 9 years meets the recomendation of the government e-envoy on open source software., and certainly before the debate in the house of commons on the story of Helen Wilkinson a national health service practice manager, who found errors in her medical records and following a long period of correspondance wanted her records removed from the NHS and is very anxious about the implications of electronic patient records. This case raises important issues for privacy, confidentiaility and civil liberties which NPfIT needs to address.

The moving ahead section at the back of the annual report, suggests we are to receive a major information campaign related to electronic records and other NHS Connecting for Health work - it will be interesting to see how balanced this is, or whether we will get more glossy brochures, like this annual report.

WHO | World Health Assembly concludes: adopts key resolutions affecting global public health

WHO | World Health Assembly concludes: adopts key resolutions affecting global public health:

The World Health Assembly, the supreme decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a wide rnage of resolutions at it's meeting at the end of May.

Included was the following statement on ehealth and elearning:

"Noting the potential impact of advances in information and communication technologies, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution encouraging more work on eHealth. eHealth is the cost-effective and secure use of information and communication technologies in support of health and health-related fields, including health-care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education. The resolution urges Member States to endeavour to reach communities, including vulnerable groups, with eHealth services, and requests the WHO Director-General to continue the expansion of mechanisms such as the Health Academy, which promote health awareness and healthy lifestyles through eLearning."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

"The NHS IT Project: The biggest computer programme in the world,,, ever!" - review

"The NHS IT Project: The biggest computer programme in the world,,, ever!" - review

I've just finished reading Sean Brennan's new book "The NHS IT Project: The biggest computer programme in the world,,, ever!" & made my review available.

Measuring health

Measuring health

Yesterdays Guardian included this major review of the ways in which healthcare is meausred and included performance tables using different indicators from those used by the department of health, perhaps providing the information the public wants/needs.

Although the format and presentation could be improved they do give some different insights into the performance of the NHS.

JISC Digital Repositories Programme

JISC Digital Repositories Programme

A major boost to the use of digital repositories was announced today, by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) on behalf of UK Higher and Further Education.

A £4 million investment was announced to enahnce the use of repositories. A repository is a digital store of principally research outputs and journal articles, but also potentially a wealth of other information, created by teachers, academics and researchers and made openly available to all who wish to access them. Their great advantage is that they enable the free sharing of information, encouraging collaboration and the widespread communication of UK education and research activity.

Although the development of repositories has up to now focussed largely on making accessible the outputs of the research community, this new programme will develop the concept still further by encouraging the growth of repositories for learning materials, data and much else. Repositories have the potential to help institutions to manage their assets more effectively and to encourage the development of collaborative communities across UK education and research. The UK leads the world in recognising the potential of repositories and this JISC programme will ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of international developments in this area.

I think this development definately shows the direction we are travelling and it will be important for everyone to consider the implications of this work.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Call for participation - SIHI 2005 conference

SIHI 2005 conference

Southern Institute for Health Informatics

7th Annual Conference

Friday 30th September 2005, Richmond Building, University of Portsmouth

After six tremendously successful SIHI conferences, we are holding this year's one in Portsmouth on Friday 30th September and we would like to invite you to participate.

The theme for the conference is the contribution that Health Informatics could and should make to the Improvement Agenda in the National Health Service.

The conference will consist of a number of keynote speakers and other oral presentations. In addition, the "Infomart", an informal information marketplace area, will allow vendors and researchers to set out a stall to meet people and exchange information.

If you would be interested in attending or participating in any way, please email us at, write to us at the address below or telephone us on 023 9284 6445.

More details can be found on the conference website:

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Fujitsu drops IDX for south of England

Fujitsu drops IDX for south of England

E-Health Insider is today reporting the widely expected announcement that IDX's contract to provide the clinical information system for the south of England has been terminated. It is expected that Cerner will be awarded the contract.

The formal statement about this development can be seen on the Connecting for Health Web Site