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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Best research for best health: A new National Health Research Strategy - the NHS contribution to health research in England: A consultation

Best research for best health: A new National Health Research Strategy - the NHS contribution to health research in England: A consultation : The Department of Health - Consultations

This current consultation (closing date 21st Oct 2005) by the department of Health sets out it's plans for a National Institute of Health Reseach to support health research and contribute to wider government strategies in science and reseach.

One of the proposals is to "a linked set of technology platforms that support clinical research in selected research intensive hospitals/NHS providers". I wonder what this means?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Handheld Public Services

Handheld Public Services

This piece from Alistair Norman on the Handheld Learning forum provides a useful (if possibly a little over-optimistic) review of some of the developments using mobile technologies in the NHS, police, fire and rescue services, and questions when the opportunity is going to be grasped to use some of these technologies for information support and learning needs of the practioners on the ground.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Nurses bypassed by NHS IT Projects says RCN survey

RCN: News & Press article: Nurses bypassed by NHS IT Projects ‘Talk to the ground floor workers...ask us what we need...’

The RCN has just released the results of its latest survey of 1700 members looking at nurses, IT and the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in the NHS. It should be pointed out that this survey was conducted online and therefore may not include the views of those with limited IT knowledge & skills or access.

Nurses remain positive about the potential of IT to improve patient care but demand to be consulted on the way future systems are designed and used.

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed felt that without timely access to accurate and complete patient records, the care they deliver could be ineffective or even unsafe. Over two thirds of respondents said that they had little or no information about NHS IT developments. Nearly three-quarters felt they had not been adequately informed about integrated electronic health record developments within the NHS and almost a third had received no information at all.

The survey also highlighted a major lack of IT training opportunities within the NHS. Computer training should be made available to most NHS staff, yet over two thirds had not undergone any IT training at work over the previous six months. A large majority (88%) used a computer daily at work and over a third share a machine with over twenty people. Having to ‘fight’ to get access to a computer was an issue for 11% of respondents who often had to share a single machine with over 30 people.

Further comment on this story is available from EHealth Insider
and the full results are avaialble as a word file at:

The key role of nurses and the need for their involvement in IT-led changes within the NHS is further explored in an E-Health Insider comment and analysis piece by Linda Davidson "The magic glue". It includes comments from Heather Tierney-Moore (Nursing clinical lead at Connecting for Health (CfH)), Beverly Malone (RCN General Secretary) and Sharon Levy (RCN health informatics adviser) about nurses' importance - but limited suggestions for how to enhance the involvement of nurses.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

NICE to assess the feasibility of evaluating computerised decision support systems

2005/014 NICE to assess the feasibility of evaluating computerised decision support systems

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE or ‘the Institute’) is working with Connecting for Health (CfH, formerly the National Programme for Information Technology) to undertake a pilot study to develop and pilot methods for evaluating computerised decision support systems (CDSS).

This seems like a very sensible idea as CDSS are likely to become as significant to patient care as any medication or surgical procedure, however it will be interesting to see whether the evaluation methods currently in use are seen as being suitable for this sort of intervention.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

BCS - ECDL Given NHS Seal of Approval

British Computer Society - ECDL Given NHS Seal of Approval

The British Computer Society have just released the results of a satisfaction survey of 168 NHS staff who undertook the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) between 4th April & 1st July 2005.

The majority of respondents studied for course through their place of work and although nearly 20% completed it in under 3 months, most people took between 6 and 18 months. The majority of people who completed the questionnaires were female and between 35 and 55years old. Perhaps surprisingly over half worked in Admin, Management or IT, with considerably less from the clinical professions who may be those which have the least skills and need most training before NPfIT applications "go live" in their workplace.

The profile of those undertaking ECDL may be why their major reason was for a recognised qualification, with less than half suggesting it was to give them more confidence when new systems are introduced. The work involved in getting staff with less IT skills (who are not likely to be the early adopters), may be more difficult and take considerably longer.

The "official" story is on the NHS Health Informatics Community and for further comment and comparisons with an NHSIA survey (May 2004) see the story from EHealth Insider Almost all NHS staff happy with ECDL, which also contains a discussion of issues with taking the ECDL exams.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Royal Society study on the Impact of ICT on health and healthcare

Royal Society | Impact of ICT on health and healthcare

The Royal Society is launching its project on the developments in information and communication technology relating to health and healthcare in the next ten to fifteen years, and would appreciate your views and comments by 9 September 2005. Please feel free to forward this message to any individual or organisation you think might be interested in responding.

The Society has established a working group to investigate the developments in information and communication technology (ICT) relating to health and healthcare in the next ten to fifteen years. The membership of the working group is given below. The potential impacts and implications of these technological developments will be assessed. The study will involve the groups who are likely to use these new technologies, the developers of future technologies, and health policy makers.

To obtain a wide range of information for this study the Society is issuing an open call for evidence. The working group would welcome responses from individuals and organisations with expertise or interest in this topic such as academics (including scientists, social scientists and economists), bodies responsible for setting standards, civil society groups, Government policy makers, healthcare providers (both professionals and informal carers), healthcare provider organisations, industry (such as ICT, medical devices and pharmaceutical), the media, patient groups, the public, and any other interested parties.

Background to study

The Society’s study will identify the relevant future technology trends that are likely to impact on health and healthcare in the next ten to fifteen years. In addition, it will assess the potential positive and negative impacts of these future technological developments and evaluate their wider implications.

The field of ICT is developing rapidly, leading to a shrinking in both the cost and size of sensors, monitors and other equipment. This shrinkage allows the creation of both novel uses for existing technologies and applications of completely new technologies. Some relevant trends in ICT include pervasive sensing networks, increasing processing power and the ability to transfer more information faster through both wired and wireless systems.

Such technologies might have health and healthcare benefits, but also raise issues about how any information generated is used, how it is analysed, who owns it and who should have access to the data. These technological developments also have potential wider social implications: will increasing the amount of data make patients feel better, or might it generate more uncertainty or concern? More specifically, the study will investigate concerns associated with the generation, release and subsequent use of personal health data.

These technologies will generate an ever increasing amount of health related data. It is important to ensure that these data are made available to appropriate groups, kept away from inappropriate groups, and processed to yield useful information. This study will investigate how best to establish and secure this communication.

All countries have finite resources that can be allocated to health and healthcare. Future developments in ICT might be one of a number of ways of ensuring that health and healthcare funding is prudently spent. The UK's National Health Service is evolving with programmes such as Connecting for Health in England, the National eHealth / IM&T Strategy in Scotland and Informing Healthcare in Wales. The study will assess the potential impact of the costs of future technologies.

The study will not be investigating the handling of health care records with current technologies in detail, but will focus on the impact of future technologies on health information management. The study will not investigate the technological aspects of national identity cards or the current electronic patient record. These issues are currently the subject of studies by other organisations.

Specific questions

The working group would particularly welcome responses to some or all of the questions below.

Identifying relevant future technological developments

1 What relevant technology trends are likely to impact on health and healthcare in the next ten to fifteen years?

Assessing the potential positive and negative impacts of relevant future technological developments

2 What areas in the provision of health and healthcare could be positively or negatively affected by these developments?

3 What actions should be undertaken now to maximise positive impacts, or to prevent or minimise adverse effects?

Evaluating the wider implications of relevant future technological developments

4 Do you have any concerns associated with the generation, release and subsequent use of personal data?
5 What medico-legal and ethical issues merit consideration when introducing new technologies, such as the responsibilities, processes and liabilities for decision making?

6 What regulations or other mechanisms (including standards) would facilitate the responsible development of relevant technologies?

7 What infrastructure would be required to allow any new technologies to be used effectively?
8 What are the most likely promoters and barriers to the take up of new ICT devices and systems?
9 What education and training would need to accompany the introduction of any technologies, and who would need to be involved?

10 How are professional roles and responsibilities likely to be affected by the increasing use of ICT?
11 How can the development of technologies that meet patients’ and informal carers’ needs and are practically useable be best facilitated?

12 What are the potential impacts of the costs of any of these new technologies?
13 What are the implications of the international use of future technological developments, such as global use of health data, variability of ICT-enabled support, and interoperability?

Are there any other important issues that have not been addressed by the questions above and that you think the working group should address?


The deadline for submissions is 9 September 2005, either electronically (preferred format) or by post to:
Post Dr Nick Green, The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG, UK.

Responses are likely to have the greatest impact if they are restricted to four pages, plus appendices if appropriate. The final report will list the individuals and organisations who submitted evidence. The responses might be published on completion of the project, so please inform the Society if you do not want your submission to be made public. If you would like to submit evidence, but are unable to meet the deadline, please contact Dr Nick Green.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

National Library for Health - User Needs Survey

National Library for Health - User Needs Survey

This report, commissioned by NHS Connecting for Health, has been made available (in PDF).

Its aims and objectives were:
1. To ensure the National Library of Health’s direction is strongly informed by customers, including potential customers
2. To make recommendations that ensure that information provision across the NHS is timely, affordable, dynamic and of high quality

Key themes emerging from the findings are:
• Information availability - insufficiency of e-journals and e-books, inequalities of access relating to location, difficulties in getting hold of NHS information
• Information access - the physical inaccessibility of libraries, limited opening hours, access to equipment, the challenge of locating relevant resources within NLH, and the preference for using the Internet and Google.
• Subject coverage and information organisation – many non-clinical staff consider that their subject needs are poorly served by NLS and their local library and information service (LIS); grouping resources for specific role groups and job types would facilitate access, as would well-structured information that leads staff from the top level nuggets to in-depth information; poor access to NHS information is another concern
• Information Service provision – strong interest in electronic document request and delivery services and recognition that LIS staff can play a stronger role in structuring, targeting, and filtering information to increase accessibility
• Constraints on time – job pressure impeded information use as does unease that managers do not acknowledge that finding and using information is a legitimate work place activity
• Concerns with funding and with local investment in libraries and information services – whilst there were many compliments for their local service, staff nevertheless saw lack of investment by Trusts as resulting in a post code lottery for levels of service, and limited investment in experienced staff. The argument for managing procurement nationally was strong
• Ignorance of resources – almost half those consulted did not use their local LIS; over half the questionnaire respondents were unaware of many of the resources already provided by NLH
• Needs for improved information skills - staff consider that their ability to find the information that they need are inadequate. Associated with skills is the issue of information quality; quality assurance of sources provided vis NLH is important

Although I've not finished reading the report in detail yet it appears to highlight some important areas for future development and the recommendations seem to point the way ahead.

EyeforHealthcare - Electronic Patient Records in Europe

EyeforHealthcare - Electronic Patient Records in Europe

This conference announcement looks quite interesting, and certainly EPRs are a high impact topics in many countries.

The meeting claims to have all key stakeholders present, including national governments, ministers and healthcare institutions, the two-day meeting will focus on what is practical, not theoretical, and will seek solutions rather than empty discussions.

Specifically, the conference will cover:

* Standards integration
* Funding and
* Best-practice examples and opportunities for European eHealth
* Plans and partnerships being forged
* Outcomes for prescribers – enable doctors and nurses to beat their targets

makingIThappen Newsletter Issue 4

makingIThappen Newsletter Issue 4 - National Programme for IT in the NHS - NHS Connecting for Health

The latest (4th) edition (June 2005) of "makingIThappen" the newsletter of NHS Connecting for Health is now available in pdf.

It includes various news items and stories on; clinical leads, e-prescribing, patient safety.

MORI / NHS Connecting for Health research

MORI / NHS Connecting for Health research - NHS Connecting for Health

It appears from this page and the accompanying letter that NHS Connecting for Health has commisioned MORI, the Market & Opinion Research company, to conduct a survey about new IT systems being implemented in the NHS.

The survey is being conducted accross the 28 Strategic Health Authorities, among the following groups:

o Doctors
o Nurses
o NHS Managers
o Allied Health Professionals
o IT/IM&T Managers
o Practice Managers and Administrators

I would be interested in finding out more about this survey, what sorts of questions are being asked and the use which will be made of the results. If anyone has been recruited to take part I would be very interested to hear from you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

NI2006 - submissions close in 50 days


There are just over 7 weeks (50 days) until the closing of submissions
for NI2006, the 9th International Congress on Nursing Informatics.

Please consider submitting your work for this important international
event - don't leave it too late. We ask you to forward this to any
colleagues who may be interested.

NI2006 takes place in Seoul, Korea, on 11-14 June 2006, with tutorials
on 9-10 June.

All information will be available via the conference website, where you
can submit and also register as a reviewer.

Remember: Deadline for Submission: August 31, 2005

Monday, July 11, 2005

Emerging technologies in CfH sights

Emerging technologies in CfH sights

This report from E-Health Insider covers comments made by Dr Mike Bainbridge, Connecting for Health (CfH) clinical architect, to the British Computer Society primary health care specialist group.

He touched on RFID chips to reduce drug errors, screen sizes oon PDAs and the NHS/Microsoft common user interface (CUI).

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Evaluation of extended formulary independent nurse prescribing: executive summary

Evaluation of extended formulary independent nurse prescribing: executive summary

This report by University of Southampton School of Nursing and Midwifery on behalf of The Department of Health found that independent nurse prescribing was viewed positively by patients, doctors and nurses themselves, with patients citing accessibility as a major advantage when obtaining their medicine from a nurse rather than a doctor. The research, carried out by the University of Southampton, evaluated the first two years of extended formulary nurse prescribing and used a national survey, observation of prescribing nurses and the views of stakeholders in its assessment.

It also found that the two factors that made nurse prescribing difficult were the limitations of the formulary and lack of computer-generated prescriptions. The survey of almost 250 nurse prescribers of which only 5% said they were able to prescribe using computer generated prescriptions. More than half of those surveyed considered that access to computerised prescriptions would improve their prescribing practice.

For comment see:

Saturday, July 02, 2005

:: NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement

:: NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement has just been incorporated as a special health authority, with a remit covering service transformation, technology and product innovation, leadership development and learning in the NHS.

The web site is very light on content as yet, but this could potentially be an important new body.

Records Management: NHS Code of Practice : The Department of Health - Consultations

Records Management: NHS Code of Practice : The Department of Health - Consultations

The department of health have issued a consultation (closing date 30th Sept 2005) on a code of practice on the management of patient records, taking into account the changes which are occuring in electronic records & communication.