HC2008 News Roundup

News stories coming out of HC2008:

Whitehall advertises for NHS CIO

The Department of Health has advertised for an NHS chief information officer. Headhunters have been recruited and interviews will take place in a couple of months.

Matthew Swindells, acting NHS CIO, told the HC2008 annual healthcare IT conference at Harrogate: “This is an absolutely crucial position, linking the policy to the strategy, to the informatics. If we can drive that from the top then other things become a lot easier for everybody.”

Prof Sir Bruce Keogh interim DH IT director general

Sir Professor Keogh, the Department of Health’s medical director, is to become the department’s interim director general of informatics.

He will take over from Matthew Swindells, the current DH director general of informatics, who has announced earlier this month he is to join consultants Tribal Group at the end of his current secondment.

Swindells, who has been responsible for undertaking a wide-ranging role of NHS informatics due for publication this summer, has been on secondment with the DH since November 2007.

Swindells calls for stronger use of information

Departing CIO at the Department of Health, Matthew Swindells, has stressed the importance of the NHS using information to make the service better.

In the opening speech at the Healthcare Computing conference in Harrogate today, Swindells stressed that NHS managers must see information they produce as an asset, and not just numbers.

“NHS managers must be able to understand the information they are producing, and use it to improve their services. If they can’t explain it to their staff, then they are letting patients down. Information is a core part of their jobs, not simply an enabler,” he said.


BBC: How technology is helping hospitals

BBC has an article covering the use of technology in hospitals. It comments on PACS, Speech Recognition, Touch Screens and Wifi:

X-rays being shown on high resolution computer screens

As Britain’s National Health Service celebrates its 60th birthday, new digital technology is revolutionising old working methods in a drive for greater efficiency.

The National Health Service has come a long way since its inception.

An x-ray is an old fashioned photograph which takes time to develop and then exists as an artefact that has to be physically passed around to everyone who needs it.

But having an x-ray taken at the Countess of Chester hospital in the north west of England no longer involves any film or photographic chemicals.

Instead a machine scans the image straight into a central database and makes it instantly available on the radiology ward and across the hospital in the consultant’s office.

At this hospital the images are scrutinised by expert eyes on high-resolution screens and, while other hospitals are doing the same thing, in Chester they have gone one step further.


Health Informatics Videos

I’m collecting as many videos and presentations as I can find and uploading them to my new Ning website:

Take a look and if there’s a cool video you know about, feel free to add it on. If you are already a Ning user, log in and click ‘Add a Video’.

Should HIPAA Extend to Include HealthVault and Google Health PHRs?

Interesting commentary on the New England Journal of Medicine article about new commercial PHRs published in the NYT:

In an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, two leading researchers warn that the entry of big companies like Microsoft and Google into the field of personal health records could drastically alter the practice of clinical research and raise new challenges to the privacy of patient records.

The authors, Dr. Kenneth D. Mandl and Dr. Isaac S. Kohane, are longtime proponents of the benefits of electronic patient records to improve care and help individuals make smarter health decisions.

But their concern, stated in the article published Wednesday and in an interview, is that the medical profession and policy makers have not begun to grapple with the implications of companies like Microsoft and Google becoming the hosts for vast stores of patient information.

The arrival of these new corporate entrants, the authors write, promises to bring “a seismic change” in the control and stewardship of patient information.


Tories would support Open Source Software for the NHS

David Cameron recently gave a speech where he expressed his preference for Open Standards and Open Source Software such as Linux for use in the NHS and other government projects:

We will follow private sector best practice which is to introduce ‘open standards’ that enables IT contracts to be split up into modular components. So never again could there be projects like Labour’s hubristic NHS supercomputer. And we will create a level playing field for open source software in IT procurement and open up the procurement system to small and innovative companies…

…look at the private sector’s take-up of open source software, developed collectively by a community of individuals, universities and small and large firms from around the world.

They build the product, suggest improvements, check the source code and critique each others’ work.

Linux, the open source pioneer, is now the fastest growing operating system in the world, and even IBM is basing their new hardware on it.

Information liberation could be hugely beneficial in the new economy.

After all, what are the great new giants of the internet – from Myspace to eBay – but information processing systems?


HC 2008: Harrogate

HC 2008 in Harrogate is taking place on 21-23 April.

A 3 day conference and exhibition for everyone involved in handling and managing information in healthcare. Matthew Swindells, Department of Health’s acting chief information officer, has been confirmed as the opening speaker at HC2008. He is expected to talk in his keynote presentation on the strategic role of information in the NHS, and, in particular, the part it plays in supporting and delivering changes described in the interim ‘Darzi review’.


Article about AskDrWiki

Discovered this via David Rothman’s Twitter stream: Cleveland Clinic Alumni Magazine have an article about AskDrWIki:

Wiki is a Hawaiian word for “fast”, and cardiologist Ken Civello, MD, is all about fast. When he wants information, he wants it pronto. And a year ago, he decided to do something about it.

Along with cardiology colleagues Brian Jefferson, MD, Shane Bailey, MD, and Michael
McWilliams, MD, Dr. Civello established AskDrWiki.com, a non-profit, grassroots, physician-run, physician-maintained online community to publish review articles, clinical notes and medical images.

Modeled after the popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, the four doctors thought it would be a great way to share information with each other. Doctors have been consulting each other for years. Dr. Civello thinks those consults don’t always have to be face to face. When the idea came to him, Dr. Civello says it was truly like a light bulb appeared above his head. “In medicine we are constantly looking to share information across long distances,” he says. “I couldn’t believe no one ever thought of this before.”

Read the article on Ken Civello’s Blog