HC 2002

Healthcare Computing Conference

Harrogate 18-20 March 2002

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.

The conference was opened by Prof Stephen Kay, who set out administrative information and changes to the programme (including the absence of Lord Hunt) who set out the question "What is Health Informatics?" and described this conference as providing a snapshot of the answer.


The first paper was presented by Andrew Foster, Director of Human Resources, Department of Health who spoke about the electronic staff record - current perspectives and future potential. He started by announcing confirmation of Gwyn Thomas as the head of the NHS Information Authority, and described the plans incumbent in the new Human Resources Strategy, which will be launched in July 2002.

He described the staff numbers and complexity in the NHS, with its 200 pay spines, 900 statutory employers and thousands of qualifications. He set out the relationship of HR to the NHS plan and mentioned a pilot study at Kingston and plans to overcome "occupational tribe labels".

He identified 4 "Pillars of Delivery" in the moves to make the NHS a model employer and build on the document improving working lives. These include the vision of: 1) a Golden Trust which involves staff, and developments in coaching and mentoring, 2) the skills escalator with new skills and learning with staff moving up the escalator and tasks moving down, 3) tackling low morale with a "psychological contract", and 4) HRM development.

He described the plans for the Electronic Staff Record (ESR), with pay in 8 or 9 bands expressed by knowledge, skills and qualifications and improved workforce planning based on knowledge and skills rather than titles. The ESR will provide more than payroll services and is envisaged to include learning modules - common core, occupational core and patient/disease specific. The ESR also ties in with changes in regulation and its extension to anyone who "touches" patients. A timescale for the ESR was proposed with a pilot in Birmingham this year and coverage of the whole of the NHS by 2004.

The second speaker was Geoff McMullen - President BCS who discussed Professionalism and the BCS. He described the BCS and what it has to offer in terms of codes of conduct and educational developments.

During the afternoon, the first paper I attended was by Mike Stevens, Deputy CEO Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust, who described the process by which their trust have introduced a digital image management system as part of a comprehensive EPR.

He described the situation inn Walsall and their developments in HIS & ERDIP and identified lessons:
  • Developing strategies to meet all outcomes
  • Implementing standards eg DICOM
  • Recognising your starting point - depends on local circumstances eg A&E modernisation programmes & a new CT scanner
  • Integration with other strategies
  • Ensuring security and confidentiality - including patient access

He described how their implementation is web based - therefore not requiring dedicated or high specification equipment or software.

During the question and answer session he described developments in community access including the use of GPRS and agreed with a questioner about the importance of education and training.

MIke Stevens
Jeremy Thorpe The next presentation was by Jeremy Thorpe, from the Department of Health Information Policy Unit who considered the building of the information infrastructure, particularly in terms of technical and confidentiality standards.

He summarised targets for March 2001, 2002 and 2003 and the progress (or otherwise) towards them, including the use of PKI and other "privacy enhancing technologies" and the use of "pseudoanymisation", and touch on the effects of Clause 60 of the Health and Social Care Act.

Further information is available from: http://www.nhsia.nhs.uk/security
The next paper I attended was by Prof Jeremy Wyatt, Director of Knowledge Management Centre and Amsterdam University who examined evidence on Clinical Innovation: ensuring that knowledge is used not just available. His contention was that there was agreement that clinical guidelines are a good thing, but examined what we can and can't do with them.

He described studies which gave varying levels of confidence in different methods of trying to get the information from guidelines into clinicians practice and improving patient outcomes, and made suggestions about what to do if proposing or planning a clinical innovation project.

Further information is available from: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/kmc
Jeremy Wyatt
The last paper I attended was by my colleague Paula Procter from the University of Sheffield School of Nursing and Midwifery who set out a personal and humourous view relating to Healthcare information and its place in society. This ranged from watching users action before implementing systems to the moving cogs of a "Humanistic Information Model" and the four horsemen of the apocalypse !
Paula Procter Humanistic Information Model

Return to index

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

Page Created: 15.3.02

Last Updated: 18.3.02