Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The NHS IT project

Now that I begin to think about life beyond lattice QCD, I have to decide on what to do with the rest of my life.  I thought perhaps I would help "sick people." To get some idea of what  the computing issues are in health, I have read The NHS IT project by Sean Bremen.

This was an interesting book about an attempt to introduce new IT infrastructure into the NHS. Bremen  
did a really good job of explaining why having better IT in the NHS was good for patients. It would help GPs communicate better with consultants. I am now a big fan of centralized patients records. Also the use of simplified "expert systems" seemed like a good idea to help with treatment and stop basic mistakes. It was clear from the book, that the reorganization of the NHS was less important than getting the IT correct.

There are many challenges to improving the IT infrastructure in  the NHS. Many GPs and hospitals have their own computer systems, so it will be hard to get all the systems to talk to each other. Even in one hospital there are many different systems

It made me laugh that they were intending to use Microsoft tablets for doctors and nurses on wards. This did seem like an application where a tablet was clearly better than a laptop.

The book was published in 2005, so it would be interesting to find out what progress has been made.
Improving IT in the NHS requires a mixture of technology and "politics" (or keeping the users happy).

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