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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Elgg, social software, e-learning and health informatics

Elgg (see is 'an open source learning lanscape' and provides a set of tools for exploring the development of online education and e-learning from a social networking perspective. The idea is to 'connect learners, instructors and resources creating communities of learning' and provides a hybrid of weblogging, e-portfolios and social networking.

Several of 'usual suspects' from this blog and various other ventures are exploring its use. The start of an Elgg health informatics community has been developed, although at present contains little material. If you are intersted in exploring the potential, sign up with Elgg for a free account and then join the Health Informatics Community.

One question that I asked was 'how is this different from Moodle? - what more or different soes it offer?'. There is a short explanation of this at and a link to a longer paper on social networking and distance education. In addition, it seems there is ongoing work to explore an integration of Elgg and Moodle.

Peter Murray (

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

FLOSS Healthcare Community

A new forum with the intention to be a resource for those interested in the use of Free/Libre open Source Software (FLOSS) in health informatics is available at the FLOSS Healthcare Community. The forum has a number of Boards dedicated to topics as General FLOSS, FLOSS Health Informatics (with sub-boards for: e-learning-, clinical-, and research applications software), Digital Rights Management and Health Informatics Events.
The FLOSS Forum was established on mid-December, and is still very new. Please visit the forum, and take part in the discussions and take part in adding substance. The idea is to use the experiences from the Forum to form a FLOSS Work Group in the European Federation for Medical Informatics (EFMI) during 2006. The forum is moderated, and users should sign in to get full access to post topics in boards and to receive information and updated material from the FLOSS Healthcare Forum.

Friday, December 23, 2005

RLO: Why do we need confidentiality?

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RLO: Why do we need confidentiality?

The latest of the Higher Education Academy: Health Sciences and Practice included a short item on Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) and pointed to an example produced by the University of Cambridge covering the need for confidentiality in health and social care.

A lot of work has obviously gone into the creation of the RLO but I found it a little "one paced" and there was no interaction for the first 3 screens. The voice over simply reads the text on the screen and doesn't seem to add anything to the students learning.

The issues reaised are important ones for a range of professionals and the scenario presented makes them relevant to all, however I'm not sure how I will use this RLO in my future teaching.

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e-Learning strategy for the NHS

Supporting Best Practice in e-Learning across the NHS

The NHS has recently published it's strategy for supporting elearning. It contains lots of lessons learnyt from previous initiatives in the NHS & some learning from outside organisations including education providers - it also includes a fair chunk of management speak (and no indication of how it will be paid for).

I wish the strategy well & hope that it achieves it's objective for 2008 and 2011. In particular the aim of achieving "Protected Learning Time". As I said when it was included in the aims of the NHSu if it achieves nothing else if it achieves this it will have been worthwhile.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Nurses to find knowledge online

Kable - Nurses to find knowledge online - 21 December 2005

Kable government computing has just published this short news item about the development of the "Nurses Knowledge Toolkit" by the Royal College of Nursing.

I hope that this work, which is supported by NHS Connecting for Health, will be successful. The project initiation document, which is scheduled for early in 2006, will hopefully include ways in which the high quality information to be made available will be accessible in ways which are compatible with nurses working practices and customised to enable them to access it in a form which is relevant to their immediate needs and reduces the extraneous "noise" which can be a barrier.

Whether this should really be called a knowledge toolkit or an information toolkit remains open to debate.

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BCS Health Informatics groups

The BCS SW Health Informatics group has recently become active again and will be concentrating on getting meetings focussing on health informatics content.

The first of these will be a webcast by Peter Drury on Friday January 27th from 1-2pm. Peter's interactive live presentation will be webcast to any Internet connected computer but of course we would like your help to ensure a good 'turn out' from the South West. His presentation is entitled
"eHealth: developing the agenda in developing countries"

Many of you will know Peter who has Head of the DH Information Policy Unit for a number of years. His current job title is "Developing eHealth Connections in Kenya Programme Manager".

To access this live webcast on January 27th, you will need to go to this page

For further information (& to join & get involved in activites) contact:
Ray Jones
Acting Chair BCS SW Health Informatics group
Faculty Of Health And Social Work, University of Plymouth
Block C, Floor 5
Portland Square Building
University of Plymouth
Drake Circus
Plymouth PL4 8AA
United Kingdom

Another new group which may be of interest and has recently been formed is the BCS Health Informatics Interactive Care Specialist Group which aims to:

* be concerned with the interactive application of ICT and related technologies in the delivery of health (and related social) care;
* focus on the application of the technologies rather than on the technologies themselves;
* improve the communication of the good news about successful applications of interactive care;
* provide a forum to present and discuss specific applications, run multi-disciplinary workshops and arrange site visits for demonstrations of successful applications and good practice;
* be inclusive and attract many healthcare professionals who have a limited (or no specific) interest in ICT as well as involved clinicians and Health Informatics professionals.

For further information on this group contact Keith Clough

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Monday, December 19, 2005

WWW2006 The 15th International World Wide Web Conference

WWW2006 - WWW 2006: 23-26th May: The 15th International World Wide Web Conference

I've been invited to speak as part of the health day at this prestigious conference, but there is still time for others to submit posters or developer presentations. See the web site for confirmed speakers including Tim Benners-Lee & other associated events.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Worries about Cerner Millenium implementation

Does Cerner Millennium kill children? I don't think so. (HIStalk)

This post on the HIStalk blog, is based on a paper by Yong Y. Han, Joseph A. Carcillo,,§, Shekhar T. Venkataraman, §, Robert S.B. Clark, R. Scott Watson, Trung C. Nguyen, Hülya Bayir, and Richard A. Orr, published in Pediatrics Vol. 116 No. 6 December 2005, pp. 1506-1512 Unexpected Increased Mortality After Implementation of a Commercially Sold Computerized Physician Order Entry System, has caused some controversy in Healthcare IT online community.

The post analyses some of the methodology and results presented in the article which showed a correlation (but not necessarily a causative relationship) between increased child deaths and the introduction of Cerner Millenium software in a US hospital, and speculates about software usability and implementation issues as possible causes.

Lets hope that similar studies are going to be conducted as this software is introduced for the Southern Cluster in the UK, by NHS Connecting for Health as part of the National Programme for IT - and that the UK studies don't show the same results as those in the USA.

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E-Learning in Nursing - new book

E-Learning in Nursing. Sally Glen and Pam Moule (Eds) :

This new book to be published by Palgrave in May 2006 provides some interesting challenges which contribute to the theory and practice of the use of elearning in nurse education.

I should declare a bias as I co-authored one of the chapters.


Distance-learning has always been important in nursing and recent health policy initiatives have identified IT as key to professional development. However, to date there has been little written on e-learning specifically from a nursing perspective. This latest addition to the Nurse Education in Practice series supports nursing and healthcare lecturers and facilitators as they develop and deliver e-learning courses. It discusses both theory and practice, and will contribute to the debate about e-learning's future within the healthcare spectrum.


E-Learning in Nursing Education: The Context; S.Glen & H.Cox
Application of New Technologies to Nurse Education; S.Gulati
E-Communities; P.Moule
Developing E-Learning Materials; P.R.Jeffries
Facilitating Work Based Learning Online; S.Gomez & D.Lush
Facilitating Access to Online Learning; M.Gilchrist & R.Ward
Assessment and Evaluation; N.Eaton & P.Moule
E-Learning in Nursing Education: Incremental Not Revolutionary Change?; S.Glen

This book can be pre ordered from Amazon:

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European Software Patents - a potential hindrance of ICT in education - FLOSSE Posse

Anticipating Round 2: European Software Patents - a potential hindrance of ICT in education - FLOSSE Posse

I'm just ctaching up on the results of the Open source for Education in Europe conference held in November & noticed this interesting post which sets out some of the arguments against allowing software patents after the European Parliament rejected the proposed European software patent law (i.e. the directive on Computer Implemented Inventions).

A campaign has been started because of concerns about the potential reduction of access to Lifelong Learning and global digital knowledge eg:

* The cost of applications could become higher because of the software patent system and the choice of available software could become limited.

* It could have a negative effect on "in-house" and/or open source development of educational applications.

* Third, the roll-out of educational FOSS in education could be jeopardised by the danger of software patents.

I feel that Open Source Software has a lot to offer and worry that the demands of the "big players" could limited future innovation.

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SDO commissions academic studies into networks

SDO commissions academic studies into networks

Three interesting sounding studies into professional and clinical networks and how they can effectively support patient care have been commissioned by the NHS Service and Delivery Organisation R&D Programme.

Networks in health care: a comparative study of their management impact and performance
Lead researcher: Professor Ewan Ferlie, Royal Holloway University of London
Cost: £303,910 Duration: 1 Nov 05 - 31 Oct 08

Delivering health care through managed clinical networks (MCNs): lessons from the north
Lead researcher: Professor Huw Davies, University of St Andrews
Cost: £299,998 Duration: 1 Nov 05 - 31 Oct 08

The management and effectiveness of professional and clinical networks
Lead researcher: Dr Rod Sheaff, University of Plymouth
Cost: £299,559 Duration: 1 Jan 06 - 31 Dec 08

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VLE - Survey in HE & FE in the UK

A longitudinal perspective between March 2001, March 2003 and March 2005 for higher education in the United Kingdom

This is the thrid in a series of surveys over the last 5 years looking at the uptake and use of Virtual Learning Environments in Higher and Further Education in the UK.

The conclusions included:
Uptake of VLEs has continued to increase, with HE colleges now on a par with pre- and post-92 institutions.

The number of VLEs in use at a given institution is beginning to decrease, but with pre-92 universities still displaying the greatest diversity.

Blackboard and WebCT continue to dominate. Other proprietary software is declining but there is an increase in in-house and open source approaches.

Post-92 universities demonstrate the biggest increases in use by both students and staff.

Access to course material continues to account for the greatest VLE usage, but particularly in post-92 universities, there is increasing usage that is not merely supplementary (i.e. optional for students). Usage is conspicuous across a very wide range of subjects.

Learning and teaching activities are consolidated as the primary drivers for considering using a VLE. Specialised support such as that required for distance learners and students with special needs are identified as significant factors but have as yet had little impact on the character of resource provision.

Availability of funding is now the primary stimulant to VLE development, and a small percentage of this is still as project funding, though assured institutional funding now dominates.

Perceptions regarding the use of career enhancement as a means of encouraging VLE usage are very low, but there is an increase in expectation that VLEs will be used by staff.

Standards are neither seen as supportive nor as barriers, indeed, they have negligible influence.

Most institutions are not yet using innovative technologies such as wireless and mobile phones, though post-92 universities are most active in this area.

The requirement to implement Personal Development Planning is beginning to have a small but noticeable impact on VLE usage. The development of e-portfolio capabilities is an emerging concern for HEIs.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Child index gets go ahead

Kable - Child index gets go ahead

Kable are reporting that the national database to help flag up cases of child abuse, allowing social services to share data across agency boundaries, has been given the go ahead.

The report says:
"The IS (Information Sharing) Index will serve as a secure central index, led in development by local authorities. Only authorised practitioners – such as social workers, teachers, doctors and Youth Offending Teams – will have access and it will only contain basic information on a child. It will identify which services a child is receiving and will provide a facility for staff to indicate if they have undertaken an assessment and if there is any information to share. "
I note there is no mention of linking these records to the electronic health record - although doctors are amongst those who will get access.

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The 12 STIs Of Christmas

The 12 STIs Of Christmas

An interesting (and topical) approach to health promotion is provided this web site which offers a new twist on the classic "12 days of Christmas" song with lyrics and animations highlighting sexual health issues and the need for condom use in a humourous way.

A closer examination reveals NHS/Dept of Health backing (and rules and regualtions) however this is not obvious initially and perhaps supports the assertion in yesterday's Guardian piece by Michael Cross describing government funded web sites "The websites nobody wants" that for certain audiences it may be appropriate to deliberately conceal government origins.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"E-learning and information literacy: initiatives and challenges" IFM Healthcare & Libraries for Nursing study day

"E-learning and information literacy: initiatives and challenges" IFM Healthcare & Libraries for Nursing study day: " "

On Monday 14 November 2005 Information for the Management of Healthcare & Libraries for Nursing held a study day at Leeds University Library.

Copies of the powerpoint presentations have now been made available on this page. They include:

Information literacy: present and future challenges
Health students are often required to become information literate with inadequate time provided in the curriculum. Can defining the skills help? In the future, how will Google Scholar and metasearch engines change our lives?
Peter Godwin (Academic Services Manager, London South Bank University)

Implementing an information literacy audit in the School of Healthcare, Leeds University
Alison Lahlafi (Faculty Team Librarian, Leeds University Library) and David Clarke (School of Healthcare, Leeds University)

Overview of key e-learning themes
David Peacock, (Knowledge Services Manager, Northumberland Tyne & wear SHA and NHS Library and Knowledge Development Network (LKDN) Executive member)

Introduction to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) e-learning resource, 'Finding articles with BNI'
Caroline Lynch and Angela Perrett (RCN)

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) for a virtual learning environment (VLE) for nurses
Karen Smith, Information Specialist/Health Information and Training Librarian, York University

Facilitated Online Learning as an Interactive Opportunity (FOLIO): the experience of running a programme of online learning for health librarians
Lynda Ayiku, Information Officer (Review Body for Interventional Procedures and Special Projects), (ScHARR), Sheffield University

Workshop: Made to measure: evaluating the effectiveness of Information Literacy (IL) training
Alison Brettle (Research Fellow, Salford University) and Joanne Greenhalgh (Senior Research Fellow, School of Healthcare, Leeds University)

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

He@lth Information on the Internet 48(1) Dec 2005 TOC

IngentaConnect Table Of Contents: He@lth Information on the Internet

The latest edition of He@lth Information on the Internet 48(1) Dec 2005 has just been published. It includes:

TI: The nurse's Internet handbook book review
AU: Childs, Sue

TI: Men's health
AU: Blenkinsopp, John

TI: Evolution of a health and social care gateway
AU: Jenkins, Helen

TI: Currency versus quality: the challenge for the Cardiovascular Diseases Specialist Library
AU: Sharp, Steve; Quinn, Tom; Coombe, April

TI: Do health Web sites offer patients personalised information and advice?
AU: Sillence, E.; Briggs, P.; Fishwick, L.; Harris, P.

TI: View from the front line: Collaboration
AU: Brown, Harry

TI: What's new?
AU: Williamson, Laurian

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Long-Term Telecare at Home

Long-Term Telecare at Home

Interesting view from the US in this newsletter about how developments in the UK are leading the way in home telecare - and how the NHS system paid for by central taxation provides opportunities and benefits, which have yet to be taken up in the US.

It includes items on:

# A range of “social alarm” tools for helping elderly residents live safely and independently at home. Among these tools are sensors placed on stoves and water valves to alert the elderly when gas or water has been left on. Details about today’s tele-tools, UK style, are provided in the Telecare Tools segment.
# Connectivity linking the alarm devices’ elderly owners with a range of technical personnel and colleagues/friends to assist. The “how to” and “why do” issues of telecare use today are described by an expert closely involved in telecare device development and use, in the Telecare Workshop segment.
# Social service management at all levels of need. A range of adult social service workers are involved with matching assistive technology with need and risk level of elderly clients who live at home. An Expert Panel of 3 persons active today in the UK telecare community provides details on connectivity and communications opportunities to enhance elderly persons’ daily lives and sense of well being, in our Look Homeward installment.

This positive picture seems to conflict with a recent survey for the Telecare Alliance about council adopting telecare policies which concluded: "Overall, the alliance concludes that only a quarter of the total number of councils have put in place plans to introduce telecare and, of those, most have not considered the strategic issues in a comprehensive way."

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Nursing use of camera phones in wound care

News: Camera phones speed up wound care in rural area

NHS Networks has this story about a specialist wound care nurse who uses pictures transmitted via camera phones to support district nurses and their patients with aspects of wound care.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mapping (for healthcare)

Kable - Mapping for healthcare - 8 November 2005

The Kablenet journal "Government Computing" in it's latest edition (Dec 2005) covered the announcement of agreement between the Ordnance Survey and the NHS via the Health and Social Care Information Centre, for the use of digital mapping in a pilot which will allow managers to use geographic information to help identify health inequalities, record changes to patient catchment areas, carry out epidemiological analysis and target services to clinical hotspots.

I have been thinking about the opportunities offered by geographic information systems in healthcare for a while but don't have the technical skills, or money for the licence agreement, to truely play with these sorts of systems.

The experts in this field recently (Dec 1-2 2005) gathered in Bangkok & the presentations etc will be available from the conference web site 1st International Symposium on Health GIS

What I have found and had a play with following Ben Toth's post on the NHS elibraries blog, is Wayfaring which uses google maps and satelite images enabling you to add local Waypoints and walks in a collaborative venture. I've done a quick demo using local pubs, churches etc and a few walks in the valley where I live "Chew Valley pubs and landmarks". It would be great if everyone signed up and put in local sights to where they live/work which can then be shared by everyone else. Perhaps adding local hospitals GPs surgeries, pharmacies etc.

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UK Health Informatics Today (UKHIT) No 48 Nursihng Informatics

UK Health Informatics Today (UKHIT) No 48

The latest (no 48 - Winter 2005) edition of UK Health Informatics Today (UKHIT) has just been published.

The issue is devoted to Nursing Informatics. Paul Linsley, a new member of the Executive, has written the lead article, Matron and the Megabite. The issue also includes a summary of resources and information sources relating to Nursing Informatics.

It also includes a mention & screen shot of this blog (page 6)

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Friday, December 02, 2005

REGISTER NOW for webcast public health journal club in english and spanish thursday 8th december 4pm british time

You are invited to take part in a free webcast public health journal club at 4pm (British time) on Thursday 8th December. Although the webcast is free you need to register and obtain a password by Tuesday 6th December 1pm (British time). Please register at the Univerisity of Plymouth, Faculty of Health and Social Work webcast page Registration is now open. When you register you will be sent a username and password to enable you to log on to the live web cast. You will be asked for a few basic items of information to help us evaluate use of this webcast.

To view the webcast on Thursday 8th December you will need to log on from a computer that has: Sound, Internet Explorer 5 or above, Flash.

The webcast is part of a University of Plymouth trial of new webcasting software called GoodMood. When participating in the webcast you will be able to watch the presenters, their presentation slides, make comments, or vote on questions asked, all on the same webpage.

This is the second in a series of English-Spanish Public Health journal clubs. The first pilot can be viewed at . We will again be reviewing four recent papers in public health. Note however that there will be a number of changes from that initial ‘trial run’ including the use of the new software. We will also alternate the way we intersperse the English and Spanish to get your views on the best method.

We look forward to your participation in this event. Please remember to register if you think you may take part.

Best wishes

Professor Ray Jones PhD FFPH
Associate Dean (Research and Enterprise)
Professor of Health Informatics, Faculty of Health and Social Work
University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8AA

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NHS Connecting for Health deal with Novell

The CfH website has a press release about NHS Connecting for Health having negotiated a new £21.8m agreement with infrastructure and software services supplier Novell. It says that 'the new agreement will save the NHS up to £75 million over three years compared to previous arrangements' and that it 'reduces the barriers for the NHS in using Open Source, as it secures access to an enterprise class Open Source platform along with, more importantly, affordable support, maintenance and training to help our NHS staff make the transition'.

Further details on the agreement and comments from Richard Granger can be found at:

What this will actually mean in practice remains to be seen; the release has little real detail and seems to be pure marketing-speak.

Thanks to David Lane (as opposed to the CfH Communications Team, who seem very poor at doing any communications) for pointing out this news.

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