The ambition and vision of the Connecting for Health programme in the UK continues to come in for a lot of public scrutiny. File on Four this evening (tuesday) looked at Choose & Book, Childhood Vaccination and Hospital system implementation. By and large, it was not pretty. Here are some of my notes from the programme.
Choose & Book
- 400k bookings since launch.
- concern from GP community on length of time needed to do booking – average at least 2 minutes (from a 10 minute patient consult).
- Avon given as example of Primary Care trust advising boycott by GP’s.
- Listened to a more positive GP giving demo of the system to reporter (6mins 50sec in). His reaction (and obvious frustration at this having happened yet again) to key details not being printed out for the patient makes one cringe.
- It appears that of the 400k bookings, 2/3 of these are for appointments that patients must make by phone – only a minority of hospitals can currently take electronic bookings.
- CHIA system for childhood vaccination programme in parts of London has been problematic since the beginning.
- Potential that vaccination records for 24k children have been lost.
- Only demographics can currently being accessed nationwide (not sure about this one?)
- Given delay in rollout, example of hospital using interim iSoft solution at cost of 600k this year. Other hospitals will have similiar interim costs with their existing suppliers while waiting for iSoft soln.
[ update ] : A good review of the programme is here.
Newsnight on BBC2 tonight (wednesday) had a piece on Choose and Book – part of a larger debate on the UK Governments push for Choice in public services such as Health and Education. The package was less than positive on the whole initiative – uptake to now, as has been well documented online, is poor.
When you see a TV programme covering these points – lack of prior consultation with the GP community, lack of integration with practice vendor software, and an interim web based solution that is slow – you quickly realise that it is very, very easy for the general public to form negative opinions of these types of initiatives.
While I totally agree with the concept and thrust of "Choice" with regard to any service – private or public, I think the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the night had sensible pragmatism (I paraphrase and add to the sentiment expressed); the individual will invariably choose local services if available, taking into account the relevant parameters of distance, time, cost, etc.
I’ve just spent a short family holiday in Spain, where a lot of these little guys were consumed; They really like their seafood in Andalucia.
After only catching up over the last few days on the blogging world, I see via John Collins that eHealth 2006 was just 30 minutes away in Malaga. I am annoyed at myself for missing this one, as it sounded like a good conference. John follows up with his report in the Health supplement of the Irish Times today.
One of the key points which seems to have been reiterated by many attendees was the way in which technology must be an enabler for staff as part of their normal, working day. This is the bottom line and absolutely crucial for frontliners, where the patient is and always should be the focus.