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back to article Time to kill the zombie health records

When the country is being asked to get ready for cutbacks, the last thing you’d expect is for civil servants to be squandering millions of pounds of public money now - and racking up huge bills for the future - or perhaps you would. That is the allegation made by Phil Booth, national coordinator of No2ID. He claims that in the …

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Dear Graham

If you regard lying to insurance companies as acceptable, good luck to you if you ever need to claim in a big way. Because that's when they'll refuse to pay up until they have checked the veracity of your application form against your doctor's records. Read the fine print!

Frankly, if I needed medical insurance, the very last thing I'd do is lie to an insurer, because that way I'd have NO, repeat NO, cover if/when I most needed it. I'd much rather stay in a civilised country, such as the UK with the NHS, so insurers don't get to cherry-pick the healthiest for their own profits while leaving the least fortunate to die for lack of money to pay the huge premia necessary for profitability.

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Welcome

Right idea, wrong approach

Hopefully we all agree that the current system(s) leave(s) a lot to be desired. I would suspect many would also agree that IT may be able - at least in part - to lessen the administrative burden and likelihood of clinical error.

The question then is how should this be done?

The current CfH approach is clearly doomed to failure: a large, high budget, centralised IT project with poor oversight, moving goals and conflicting political shenanigans. Worse of all, (due to the forced replacement of local, feature-rich, tried and tested solutions with a centralised, limited feature set, buggy and error-prone system) poor end-user acceptance, which results in poor quality healthcare service (incomplete/incorrect records, lack of user empowerment/ownership/stewardship, and so on.)

I've always maintained that rather than competing with the long-established healthcare software companies, we should capitalise on their work (trained/educated install base, support network, complementary ecosystem) by stipulating common/open data exchange formats (an NHS patient record XML schema?), interconnectivity requirements, and an agreed set of minimum security controls (multi-layer permissions/access control, audit trail and security log management, segregation of duties, DLP and backup management and so on.)

There would be great savings and fewer deaths by just moving many of the current manual and thus error-prone tasks such as appointment calendaring, prescription generation/management and data tracking into their electronic equivalents. This does not need a new completely new technology (e.g. not the doomed Choose-and-Book, for example), but just better deployment of existing technologies. Honestly, even Outlook, Word and Excel would suffice, but open source or third-party alternatives would work just as well - this is not about finding a perfect centralised system (an oxymoron), but being pragmatic, with quick and easy local wins.

CfH should be steering the market by defining their vision and light-handed requirements with suitable feedback and involvement from the practitioners and IT healthcare companies, allowing the open market to implement this vision as they see best. This way, the best IT companies are rewarded for their implementation and innovation, and allows GPs and other healthcare providers to choose the best system(s) for their needs.

But hey, these are just my ideas. How would you do it?

AC, 'cos I want to continue to work with CfH and healthcare providers...

[Welcome logo appropriated to welcome your thoughts]

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What am I allergic to?

I don't know. Several years ago I was prescribed a course of antibiotic and I broke out in itchy red blotches. It turns out that nobody now knows what drug that was, so I don't know whow to avoid being given it again, perhaps with worse consequences.

I think I probably got the stuff from hospital and not from my GP. Under the new system, I assume that that sort of thing is likely to be recorded when it happens - both drug and reaction.

Thie question arose when my dentist wanted to prescribe me an antibiotic...

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Paris Hilton

What am I allergic to? Probably penicillin

Had the same thing after being prescribed Ampicillin.

Apparently it's quite common, the red blotches are a warning though, if it happens again the reaction can be more serious, so it's worth getting an allergy test.

Paris, because she uses a lot of antibiotics.

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I agree with the poster above here

You should probably do your best to find out what you are allergic to, and get a medicalert bracelet or pendant which states that allergy. That way, you won't have to worry about whether the paramedic can identify you and access your medical records before treating you. You can get treated right away.

Even a bit of paper in your wallet would serve the purpose better than a centralised database for this function. For example, a friend of mine has a rare metabolic disorder (Carnitine palmitoyltransferase II deficiency), which can result in muscle degradation and kidney failure. On the advice of his GP, he carries a piece of paper in his wallet describing and naming his condition. This can then be used to describe his condition to paramedics, doctors, or other rescue workers (such as mountain rescue, etc.). It doesn't rely on an access point to a database, an authorised user, or indeed the need to unambiguously identify himself before this information can be found.

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Troll

Ironic.

Who needs a compromised NHS system when your mates post your metabolic disorders online?

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