HC 2001

Healthcare Computing Conference

Harrogate 19-21 March 2001

A personal review by Rod Ward



These reports are written on the fly during the conference and posted on the web on a daily(ish) basis.

Having arrived a little late & sorted out my poster I went into the opening "Keynote" sessions, during the presentation by Dr. Roger Buchanan (Chair NHSIA Cancer Datasets Working Group speaking about A National Cancer Dataset - opportunity or obstacle?. He fed back some comments about this including the size of the dataset and issues around implementation. A particularly current and controversial issue was around confidentiality and anonymity of patient information and the likelihood of primary legislation to enable the release of patient info, without their consent, "in the public interest ! His concluding remarks considered whether the aims of the cancer dataset could be achieved before the Electronic Patient Record was in place nationally. Roger Buchanan
Gisela Stuart The next speaker was Gisela Stuart, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Health discussing The role of information and information technologies in implementing the NHS Plan. I'm not sure if her admission of reading "crash" (a history of public sector IT failures) was encouraging or not, but she then went on to argue that the NHS must learn from past challenges and that IT was critical to making the NHS plan work by putting the patient at it's centre. She focussed on the different (but not necessarily conflicting) aspects of innovation and standardization and discussed current directions. One example held up was the release of the Mental Health Information Strategy as fitting within the wider Information for Health.
I next attended the Healthcare IT Effectiveness Awards - which were late & a little disorganised but reflected some of the innovative projects which are scattered around the sector. HITE Awards
Fire engine Lunch was followed by a fire alarm in the Moat House Hotel which delayed the afternoon proceedings.
The next speaker was rabbi Julia Neuberger (Chief Exec, Kings Fund) discussing Is the idea of "community health" working? In which she looks at some different issues to the technologically dominated theme of most of the conference. She analyzed the relationship between health, economics and education in terms of community development. Her examples ranged from housing, crime, the treatment of asylum seekers and travellers to transport in London. She drew parallels between rural India and "sink estates" in the UK and food deserts. She cited the "Imagine London" website as part of the healthy cities programme and during the Q & A session was drawn into debates about the information rich and the information poor. Rabbi Julia Neuberger
panel The final session I attended on Monday was a debate about Health Informatics professionalism chaired by Dr. Glyn Hayes.which had representatives of various bodies and viewpoints trying to come up with a way forward for health informatics in terms of recognition, regulation and responsibility. The possible roles of a Faculty of Health Informatics (or other term) could help both communication between the myriad of bodies operating in the filed, and in developing a professional ethos. Comments were made about medical domination in the field and the need for inclusion. Support was offered by the NHSIA & UK Institute for Health Informatics along with BCS HIC - although it was agreed that non of these bodies was right to take over these functions. The links with the changes in professional regulation for clinical scientists set out at http://www.doh.gov.uk/makingthechange were set out as a possible model. A truly expert panel fielded a range of questions and debate, although, not surprisingly no conclusions were drawn.

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To discuss any of my comments please mail: Rod.Ward@Sheffield.ac.uk

Page Created: 16.3.01

Last Updated: 19.3.01