Health - this time it's personal

Don’t we all want the best for our health? How can we get it? Can we make a difference to its delivery as individuals? In answer: ‘yes’, ‘read on’ and ‘yes’. 

We need to discuss two things: BCS’s involvement in a new campaign to get health at all levels working together, and the latest BCS IT Impact event

Let’s start with IT Impact, which asked the question: Can the NHS deliver person-centred care? That question is hugely important as the UK faces the challenges of the multidisciplinary nature of health and care. Primary, secondary and tertiary care very rarely join up well - even whilst each individual part can do a great job.

Video of the presentations will be available soon, but here are a few choice nibbles.

Matthew Swindells, NHS England's National Director: Operations and Information, is a man who knows a thing or two about this - and he gave some fascinating background on his time in healthcare.

His view was that this is the time the NHS has a real opportunity, and the potential, to make real change by redesigning health systems. He mentioned the key point of joining up systems, and that its real motivator is to give people better lives if they are in the healthcare system, but also to get ahead of the curve to help obviate crises in people's lives to assist preventative measures.

He commented that the health of the nation and the best value for the tax payer comes together in judicious use of technology. 

He also said: 'The NHS needs steering through choppy waters, but we need to make a strategic shift to design the next generation of the NHS.'

Blah blah blah

The second presentation was by Simon Wardley, a researcher for Leading Edge Forum. He talked about the 'blah' in strategy-speak. How the language we use can often obscure what we are actually trying to achieve. He covered, in short order and in a very lively way, situational awareness; Sun Tzu's five factors; military strategist John Boyd and his OODA loop; the Vikings’ navigational techniques and much more.

All of this was about doing strategic mapping properly - and the application to healthcare was clear. And he showed some excellent, and funny, examples of strategy-speak mash-ups.

Presenter David McClelland also spoke to Dany Bell and Erin Bolton, two frontline professionals, about their day to day experiences and their motivations to be in the healthcare arena at all. They were both clearly highly motivated and committed individuals, but their plea to the assemble healthcare movers and shakers could be summed up in one phrase: please, please work together.

You can make a difference

As intimated above, a new campaign was recently launched to inspire those in the position to harness technology to put people and their communities first. It aims to gather people working on health and care digital and bring them into a multi-disciplinary community. That way it can help them to share ideas, good practice, and turn that into standards that they apply to themselves.

Its objective is to unlock the potential of everyone involved in making health and care the best it can be, harnessing information and technology.

It’s called Well Connected and is brought together by The Federation for Informatics Professionals in Health and Social Care (Fed-IP), organised by a coalition comprising of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, CILIP, IHRIM and Socitm.

And here is where you can get involved: anyone who is a member of a Fed-IP recognised professional body can sign a pledge and be added to the public pre-register (BCS, CILIP, Socitm, IHIRIM).

The pledge includes:

  • Actively promote and demonstrate my commitment to putting communities first in health and care, and set an expectation that others do the same
  • Seek to learn, develop and share what delivers the best health and care
  • Not tolerate professional or organisational rivalries that conflict with what our communities need
  • Play an active role in my own professional community, and multi-disciplinary communities that support these aims

Sign the pledge to the Well Connected campaign

And if you’re not in healthcare directly?

There is also an open pledge that anyone in the NHS or indeed members of the public can sign to show their commitment.

Watch this space for the full videos from the IT Impact event.

Comments (1)

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  • 1
    Phil wrote on 11th May 2017


    Let me give my personal experience.

    In 2013 I had an abscess on my tooth. Because of the position of the abscess and other symptoms my GP got involved as well as the dentist. I was sent for a CT scan at a local private hospital but on the NHS. The CT scan showed my teeth are particularly close to my sinuses and the ENT consultant who I saw said " whoever removes the tooth would have to be careful not to make a hole from the mouth into the sinuses".

    Accordingly my Dentist referred me to the local Dental Maxillo-Facial Surgery team as if there were problems they could fix it on the spot. My tooth was removed by them.

    In November 2016 I had a similar problem to that in 2013 - the same tooth the other side of my mouth. My usual dentist had moved from the practice and I saw someone else. I had a swelling on my gum and X-rays showed a failed root canal treatment and I was referred to a endodontic specialist, with a view to a possible re-doing of the Root Canal. This was a private referral as the NHS does not re-do root canal treatments. I was referred mid December and nothing happened for 8 weeks. I phoned my dentist twice and was assured I had been referred by email. Eventually I contacted the place to which I had been referred and they had never heard of me, or any referral from my dentist. My dentist then faxed my referral to the endodontist and I got an appointment in a 4 weeks. Clearly the communication system between the 2 parties is not robust. The conclusion by the endodontist was that the tooth could not be saved and should be removed.

    I went back to my dentist and mentioned the close proximity of my teeth to my sinuses - assuming that my CT scan etc. would be available in the NHS - neither my doctor nor the dentist had access to it.

    I telephoned the Hospital where I had the CT scan done and they sent me the CT scan - cost £15 from which I extracted the relevant information on my computer as a jpeg file. I emailed this to my dentist who then referred me to the Maxillo-Facial Surgery department - as in 2013.

    I had an appointment at this department earlier this week. The consultant had no details of my 'encounter' with the endodontist nor of my CT scan. He could not access details of previous visit to the department in 2013. He could not access details other visits I made to other departments in the hospital. He had a very large paper file comprising lots of hand written notes - to which the consultant added even more. I was sent for an x-ray - which would not have been needed if the CT scan had been available.

    I was told they will remove my dodgy tooth in 6 to 8 weeks - but it may be even longer because a new IT system is being introduced and that is bound to delay things. Perhaps I shall get rid of this tooth by the end of July if I am lucky. That will make it 8 months from start to finish. I am so glad the condition isn't life threatening!

    Looking at my experience I had an X-ray at my dentist, an x-ray at the endodontist's surgery, and finally another x-ray at the hospital Maxillo-Facial department. I understand that too many X-rays are not good for me. Why not just one x-ray which could be accessed by any of these people? Not of course to mention the wasted time and money.

    I have posted this 'rant' on another blog on this website. Technically my experience would suggest for all the talk about integration etc. the NHS, or at least parts of it, is back in the stone age

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