Watching the evening news on TV – main story concerned the theft of a laptop holding over 167,000 patient donor records – this happened in New York on 8th February. Sample data was being used on a new system upgrade that the Board is implementing.
New Irish web startup RevaHealthNetwork.com describe themselves as a matchmaking site for those interested in having medical procedures in other countries. Users sign up to the website and enter details of the procedure they want to have carried out and the country to which they wish to travel to.
The last one there is interesting – a straightforward business opportunity or a complement to core business?
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.
Steve Rubel highlighted an interesting health related item a couple of weeks back.
Pew Internet and American Life project released a study on how people search for health information online – one of the main points being raised was the fact that most people do not check the veracity/context of the results.
Clearly, people are turning to search for health information, ignoring
the source and then going online to find peers for further reassurance.
This represents a huge fundamental shift in healthcare. No longer do
the health professionals hold all the cards. The patient is empowered
with information that may very often be inaccurate, and they are basing
at least some of their decisions on it.
Irish Radio Station TodayFM had a brief interview with an Irish General Practitioner on the subject on friday evening last (Ronan Boland of MyGP.ie). He pointed out that that patients getting information online is nothing new, but of course was in no way a replacement for a consultation and diagnosis with a medical professional.
My first experience of this was in 1995, when hospital doctors were beginning to relate stories of patients self-diagnosing and in some cases, pointing medics to online resources. There has been much anecdotal evidence since, especially with rarer conditions, that patients are often very well-informed; the web has enabled research beyond the medical libraries and textbooks.
It seems like no profession can now escape the review of the population at large. Rateyoursolictor.com got some profile last week, including radio interviews on saturday morning from the very media-shy Gerald Kean.
One can assume then that a similar rating system for the medical community cannot be far behind. A quick check for the rateyourgp.com domain shows that it has been taken by an IT consultancy – School & Office Support, based in Letterfrack.
More interestingly, the ratemygp.com domain was snapped up by Cork-based GP, Dr Diarmuid Mulcahy (back in December ’05). According to a piece in the Irish Medical News, Mulcahy comments that such a site would be
"for both the benefit of the
profession as well as the patient, and would be fair and balanced. I
was very taken with the ratemyteachers site and felt the comments on it
were balanced. I don’t think doctors have anything to be scared of by
having a medical equivalent.."
Personally, I’m not so sure if we can equate the legal and medical professions in this context. My own perception would be that you build a relationship with your GP, and this relationship can last a lifetime. Legal advice on the other hand, for the vast majority of people – is pretty infrequent – and based on very little personal interaction.
However, I might suggest that this may be more similar to the way interaction between senior medical staff and patients occurs in a hospital environment?
This could get interesting…..
Thoughts on the uses of podcasting in healthcare are beginning to trickle in from various sources. At the moment, most are for education – both for the patient and the practitioner.
The Medical Informatics weblog reports on an article in the Washington Post on the use of technology as an intrinsic element of the day to day workings of a medical practice. Hand held wireless devices holding patient records, internet access in patient waiting areas, and nicely printed prescriptions seem to form elements of the solution.
It is interesting that this view of the use of PDA type devices is still considered new and futuristic. I seem to remember a report many years ago from the NHS in the UK, where a survey of patients found that a doctor entering notes directly onto a PC from behind a desk was found more intimidating and less personal than if the doctor was taking the notes manually.
It seems to me that the idea of entering the information onto a smaller device like a PDA offers the possibility of a more personal engagement being established with the patient – certainly more than being half hidden behind a large CRT ever could….
RTE reports on 3rd December that a patient in a Galway hospital had to revert to calling his wife on his mobile phone, to summon help from the ward station when his bedside help button failed to work.