Looking towards the future

Health Informatics is a fast evolving profession, critical to the effective delivery, planning and improvement of health and social care, in all its forms - IT, IS, records management, information management and information governance. With this in mind Jenny Jackson and Graeme Morgan, ASSIST Developing Professionals Group (DPG) and informatics graduate management trainees, provide an overview of ASSIST’s activities and aims in this area.

In informatics and the NHS as a whole, there is no escaping the pressures from the economic downturn. We are moving into an NHS that needs to become savvier with resources and prove the value and benefit of investments. This is a great opportunity for change, which, if embraced and taken full advantage of, will deliver great benefit to patients and staff alike. With this in mind, the biggest challenge in 2010 is that of ‘quality and productivity’.

Real opportunities

The quality, innovation, productivity and prevention (QIPP) agenda is also a hot topic and central to its success is the effective use of informatics tools and skills. The innovative use of technology and information and the efficient operation of IT and information services provide real opportunities to improve:

  • the safety and effectiveness of care;
  • the patient experience;
  • the working lives of staff;
  • the productivity of valuable assets.

ASSIST is keeping pace in this ever changing environment; re-energising and bringing prominence to the informatics forum, demonstrated through the evolution of the DPG and its efforts to infiltrate social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Accessibility and modernisation

ASSIST is not only moving with the times, but becoming accessible to a whole new audience. By participating in the social networking revolution, we are able to inform members of any current news and information and give them the opportunity to take an active part in online discussions.

The groups allow networking with colleagues and members, who are able to invite others in the health care community to join the groups, enhancing the visibility of ASSIST. We envisage the social networking groups as being another tool to unite the health informatics community.

Continuing with this modernisation theme, we are working to make ASSIST interactive. The availability of national as well as regional events is a massive selling point for its members, but we understand that individuals are not always able to take time out of busy schedules to attend. In the current economic climate, this time pressure is expected to intensify.

Although most managers appreciate the value of professional development, recruitment freezes and staff shortages can make it difficult for them to release team members for what they perceive as luxuries. And whilst slide shows and presentations are often made available after the event, they sometimes do not offer the additional context and background that was provided on the day.

However, we are now in the process of investigating several technologies such as podcasts to facilitate the filming of events in their entirety and then making them available to view online. So if you couldn’t attend or you did, but would like to view the material again in the future, it will be available to you. Interactive ASSIST will not be a substitute for attending events, but an additional benefit to meet the needs of our members.

National conference

DPG provide valuable support and a fresh perspective and input at national informatics events where ASSIST has been showcased at, such as last November’s E-Health Insider Live ’09.

The forthcoming ASSIST National Conference on 29 April will be an integral part of the HC2010 Health Informatics Congress at the ICC, Birmingham. After that, the ASSIST stand at Smart Healthcare Live on 15-16 June 2010 at ExCeL, London will act as a useful opportunity to spread knowledge and understanding of what ASSIST is and what it can do for you.

Our initiatives over the coming months will be fundamentally designed to continue to meet the needs of our members, by developing member involvement in national events and a focus on regenerating the regional branches. We will be providing workshops and seminars around issues of mutual interest such as professional development, de-mystifying the NHS and access to care records.

We want to connect those working in informatics and provide genuine support to enhance networking opportunities and personal career development. We want to maintain skills, exchange information, intelligence and knowledge and enhance and share examples of good practice.

In practical terms this will involve continued development of health informatics as a profession. We need you, your ideas and your input if we are to grow and develop further into a renowned and increasingly recognised community in the health informatics world.

If you are not already a member of ASSIST and would like to join you can download a membership application form from www.assist.org.uk. If you are interested in getting involved with the ASSIST DPG please contact the group at Jenny.jackson2@nhs.net

Spring 2010