How do we as nurses know we are providing the best care possible? We ultimately want to improve the patient healthcare journey. In 2010, Mandie Sunderland (CEO of the then Heart of England Foundation Trust) spoke to Irish nurse managers at a national conference about her worries in the provision of care by all her nurses in her Trust. She spoke of assuming care was okay unless told otherwise. She reassured high level managers that care delivered by nurses was up to the proper standards. After the Mid Staffordshire Report showed severe deficiencies of care in a neighbouring Trust, she felt she needed more than assuming care was meeting standards in her Trust and set about developing “metrics” to measure the fundamentals of care. Metrics highlighted improvements she needed to make immediately to support nurses to ensure care reached the required standards. When Mandie spoke to Irish nurse managers, she was candid in saying that the reality of care delivery was far from rosy.
The purported existence of digital natives supposedly has massive implications for IT in every domain, and especially health. We are told that patients and clinicians will, more and more, be digital natives, and that their expectations of and confidence with IT will be correspondingly greater.
The Digital Health CCIO Summer School took place in July. Council members of Ireland had the opportunity to attend the two day event at the University of Manchester. This provided the unique opportunity for CCIOs from Australia, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom, and many other countries, to learn, network and build upon the delivery of the very best eHealth solutions. Here are the top ten lessons our Council members brought home.
Our goal is nothing less than to make the Northern Ireland healthcare system the best and most connected on the planet. Everyone – patients and professionals – on the same page. Ambitious? Yes. Crazy? Yes. Impossible? Only if we don’t make the effort.
The CCIO Summer School takes place this July. Council members of Ireland had the opportunity to attend last years event in the picturesque University of Leeds. This provided the opportunity for CCIOs from Australia, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom, amongst many other countries, to learn, network and build upon the delivery of the very best eHealth solutions. We thought this would be a good time to look back at last year’s event.
Time to catch up! The recent Future Health Summit 2017 was awash with international Health IT experts, and we were delighted to hear from them at the Council’s session. However before we go abroad, I’d like to highlight two local projects which were presented to us, showing that Ireland is already innovating and developing. So take a couple of minutes to read through this resumé of the event, and make a note of what might excite you!
Pharmacists, through our professional organisation, the Irish Pharmacy Union, became the fathers of two major standards
While we are all familiar with the maxim that “success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan”, there is a corollary. The perfect success story can be almost invisible, where a seamless solution just works. In Irish community pharmacy, there is an unsung story of standards in medicines information, with associated EDI messaging. These have helped to drive developments in both efficiency and safety for pharmacy and the wider public that it serves. In the 1980s, computerisation was in its infancy. BBC computers jostled with IBM PCs, Amstrads and Apple IIs. A 40Mb hard drive cost a king’s ransom and large lists were distributed on EEPROMs. Information standards were non-existent. Suppliers and software vendors jostled for dominance, all seeking a competitive edge through proprietary solutions. Emerging from this flux, a few issues were abundantly clear. The most obvious was the concept of lock-in. If pharmacists didn’t provide a solution, there was a real risk of getting tied to other people’s impositions. Pharmacists, through our professional organisation, the IPU, became the fathers of two major standards. One was a product file that was both commercially and technically agnostic. Distributed as simple text file, it provided current and reliable medicine information. The second standard followed from the first, a reliable electronic messaging system. While both these standards have evolved with the profession, they both illustrate the wisdom of a simple clear standard.
Understanding eHealth & Healthcare Informatics
Having only known a predominantly paper based healthcare system, I have slowly began the journey to untangle the complex world of Healthcare Information Technology, in particular technology enablers to capture and guide the patients journey across their lifespan through the continuum of care. Working as a Nursing Documentation Project lead in Connolly Hospital, I remain on a journey to understand how nursing practice can be reflected in an electronic format.
Putting stories at the heart of healthcare
Cecil Helman was a South African-born GP who died in 2009 of motor neurone disease. He was also an anthropologist whose textbook, Culture, Health and Illness remains a key reference and teaching text for medical anthropology. His approach to medicine, and life, is summed up in the words of one of his obituaries:
A Time for Everything
“There is a time for everything”. It’s not the norm to start a tech blog with a quote from the bible, and I promise not to make a habit of it, but there is a time for everything, and we are certainly in a time of change. I’ve joined the CCIO team to try to help that change; not for the CCIO or the eHealth Ireland team, but for those who work in the Irish Health Service and those who use it. We’re often told that the most dangerous phrase is “That’s the way we’ve always done it”, however waving that at our natural fear of change can be quite unhelpful. So let’s talk about change.