Healthcare ICT Supplement in Sunday Business Post

Last year, I wrote a short post suggesting the Irish Healthcare system needed some positive stories surrounding the use of ICT. So it was with interest that I read through most of the articles in the Sunday Business Post  Healthcare ICT supplement last night.

It was good to see issues such as PPARS being discussed and dealt with head-on. The continuing impact of this project still reverbarates, and explains in part the 10 pages or so given to the Control and Sanction of HSE ICT Expenditure in the Comptroller and Auditor General Report for 2006.

Some good case studies were given on continuing work in the Mater and St James, and stalwart local  Irish companies  such as DMF Systems, Health One and dabl also had feature pieces.

On a personal note, it was also good to see that GP Messaging (which I project managed for a good number of years when it was a key project in HeBE) was singled out for praise by the HSE Director of ICT.

Midnight coding with Ruby on Rails

I’ve been playing with Ruby on Rails
over the past few weeks – intermittent, midnight type stuff. A customer
had recently enquired about the potential for using it to build some
quick and dirty intranet applications; their words, not mine –
aficionados may just love/hate that description.

The data behind the applications was to come from a mixture of
pre-existing systems, spreadsheets, word documents; My goal was to
produce something quickly that could illustrate to the customer how
something like this could be developed a) pretty quickly and b) if they
did not bite, allow me to something to post about on this blog 8;.

The incongruity of my speed on delivering this vs. that being the
requirement of the customer has not been lost on me; but as i said,
this is late at night stuff and was fronted as such.

The dangers of free consultancy/not having the terms of engagment crystal clear  has been discussed recently by Tom Raftery
but the effort here (the most time consuming has been the manual data
entry) has been lesser that I thought. Of course there is a learning
curve – the most annoying being the lack of substantial online
resources on rails for common problems; do a search for a perl or php
issues and chances are you will have an answer very quickly.

The result of this is
– a site which allows easy access and dissemination of patients
awaiting admission to Irish hospitals (A&E figures or A&E activity) through casualty departments. The
figures have been collated from the HSE website (pdf’s), and are from April 2005 to April 2006. The Irish Nursing Organisation (INO) also maintain figures under the Trolley watch campaign, but these have not been used.

All told, probably more time than I expected, but rails has been on
the dabble-list anyway  and so was inevitable.  Over the last week or
so, I’ve had a good few suggestions on potentially how to add extra
functionality and reporting – We’ll see.

Update :  a case of that sinking feeling – the
client has backed out. however, i’m going to give this a  little more
time, and add the suggestions that have been received.


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.

HSE unveils new structures

Prof. Brendan Drumm has brought in the changes that have been in the offing over the past few months. The old health board areas are finally gone, and we now have 4 administrative areas – as noted in the news update

All references to former areas/regions will now be replaced by the appropriate one of these areas.

Interestingly, Pat McLoughlins name is still there as director of the National Hospitals Office (NHO) – after a quick trawl of the usual media sites – I do not see any reference which overturns the decision that he took some weeks back to resign as deputy head of the organisation.