Time for Change

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.

I’m a GP, and for a number of years I’ve been interested in the use of IT in health. That interest is in using the technology to make life easier for me, to improve the quality of service I deliver, and to help my patients. For the last few years, I’ve worked with the General Practice Information Technology (GPIT) group, a collaboration between ICGP, HSE and Department of Health. With the assistance of all those parties, we see a landscape where there is a well-established computerisation of Irish General Practice which has taken several years to achieve. We are still working to improve it, and there is an ongoing need for support and advice for colleagues – and we haven’t got all the answers! So when clinicians and other colleagues worry about the eHealth express train hurtling towards them, I understand. For me the challenge is how do we assist them to get on board the train, arrive in a better place, and with a bit of luck enjoy the journey!

A Time for Change

You might have noticed the picture of the car accompanying this. It was a much loved Toyota Previa. I bought one in 1996, and replaced it in 2005 with the same model and same colour (coincidence!). So when I decided it was time for change late last year, my kids could never remember Dad driving anything other than “our red bus”. It was almost part of the family, and change was a bit difficult. I was hoping to get it past 200,000 miles, but only made it to 198. One of the back doors could only be closed from the outside; it leaked when you filled the fuel tank; Central locking didn’t work, nor did the key fob; I struggled to get 25 miles to the gallon; Road tax was over €900 and it took me 3 attempts to get through the now annual NCT! But still there was the familiarity of an old friend.

So change isn’t always easy, even when we know it makes sense. My new car is much more reliable and costs much less to run. The engine cuts off when stationary but responds to a touch of the accelerator – that took a bit of getting used to! So similarly, one of the roles of the CCIO is to share our experiences, to help each other through the ups and downs of change. I hope in the weeks and months ahead to talk with many CCIO members; to listen, to learn and to share lessons learned. But you don’t have to wait to be contacted. Tell us about what works and what doesn’t, how we can help in your area. It isn’t difficult to see that we are on a journey in eHealth which should take us to a place which is better both for the patient and those who work in health. What we can all do is to work on making that journey as easy as possible, and indeed contribute to deciding the ultimate destination.

Conor O'Shea

About Conor O'Shea

Conor O’Shea is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, and has been a GP in Drogheda since 1998. He is currently National Co-ordinator of the GPIT group, which has overseen the ongoing development of IT usage in general practice in Ireland. He is also secretary of the HealthOne user group, which is Ireland’s longest established GP software. His strong belief is that IT for clinicians should be both user-friendly and of value in improving clinical care.

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