Critical condition for Irish healthcare?

This was the title of a recent piece from Siliconrepublic.com talking about current technology and IT usage in the Irish Healthcare system. It notes that during the recent General Election in this country, there were occasional thinly veiled references to "value for money" from public sector projects.

Whatever you can say about the opposition parties during the campaign, I wouldn’t agree that their references to these projects, and specifically PPARS, were thinly veiled – quite the opposite actually in that they were gunning for it for a long time before and during the campaign.

As the writer correctly highlights though – elections are all about simple messages; in this case more beds, more frontline staff…and feck the technology.

The mantra for IT in healthcare has not changed, and it is very simple – it "is a drive to remove or reduce paper from the workings of healthcare."

Unfortunately, this would have been the mantra from the business community 10+ years ago. They have since moved on to improving/redesigning processes and creating new business opportunities.

Health has a lot of catching up to do.

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Irish Minister diagnosed with a tumour on live TV by surgeon watching programme

A very interesting case. Irish Junior Minister Conor Lenihan was remotely diagnosed as he appeared on the Irish current affairs programme Prime Time in late December, while discussing the legacy of Charles Haughey.

According to the interview he gave yesterday to Morning Ireland, a Consultant Surgeon (who wished to remain anonymous) rang the show asked to speak to the Minister, advising him to seek advice.

Sure enough, a tumour was removed in early January. In the audio interview, he mentions how though non-malignant, the early intervention ensured that nerves along the jaw-line were not damaged – potentially this could have led to a palsy on the left side of his face.

The actual progamme that spurred the diagnosis is here (about 4mins 50 seconds in)

This type of story makes me feel good.

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Cisco Health Robot shown off to Tony Blair

One normally sees BBC’s political correspondent Nick Robinson against a backdrop of the black door at 10 Downing Street. Last week, when I saw a quick glimpse of him doing a report from Silicon Valley, I was wondering why? It seems that Tony Blair has been rubbing shoulders with Cisco, Apple and Google; but especially with Cisco;

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Patients, not the state, own medical records, says GP

This is the title of a piece today on The Guardian Technology section

According to the piece

"The NHS is preparing a national information campaign to inform patients
about shared records. One way to build confidence would be to emphasise
that patients own their data and have a right to view it and correct
it, as well as decide who should see it.
"

By all accounts, the days of "implied consent" are long gone.

Choose & Book profiled on Newsnight

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.

PPARS robustly defended at Public Accounts Committee

Five Seven Live on the 19th January reported on the former secretary of the Department of Health and Children Michael Kelly robustly defending PPARS.

Nice to see Professor Drumm defending the use of IT in the healthcare system, and in fact suggesting more systems are appropriate – he cited electronic prescribing as an example.

What struck me most about the piece was the interaction on the topic between studio anchor Philip Boucher-Hayes and reporter Fergal Keane. Boucher-Hayes really seemed to enjoy discovering how  cynical he could make tone of delivery when peppering wry comments through Keane’s reportage; Take this one – Deloitte & Touche referred to as "Delighted & Touched" – though glory for this one goes to Labour leader Pat Rabbite.

Microsoft Ireland Chief appointed to HSE Board

The Health Service Executive (HSE) website  has a lot of information that one might sometimes overlook. For example, the Health Tech Blog has found over the past few months that the News Section of the site has kept well up to date with responding to sometimes unfavourable comment in the media.

Most interesting in the latest edition of the newsletter Health Matters (Winter 2005- page 20), is a small piece referring to the fact that Joe Macri, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland has been appointed to the board of the HSE. The bio note of Macri in the piece notes his time with NatWest in the UK, and technology companies in Australia. He is chair of the Small Business Formum and a member of the Management Board of ICT Ireland and the National Executive Council of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation.

I don’t know when this appointment happened – there is no reference to it under the general news heading or under board membership.

Oh – and by the way – no, I didn’t have to go through each of the 15 separate PDF documents that constitue the newsletter online (infuriating) – I managed to pick up a good old fashioned paper edition instead.

Update : The Department of Health and Children (DOHC) has a press release on the appointment, dated 3rd November.