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EHI EHealth Insider Highlights

Power to the people: signs off
Paper cuts - paperless election special
e-Referral Service ‘live on 15 June’

Welcome [*data('2.first_name')|html*] Issue No 679, 17 April 2015 twitter contact



For all the excited chatter about how this would be the most digital general election ever (most of it, admittedly, on blogs and Twitter) this has been a curiously analogue campaign so far; particularly when it comes to the NHS.

All of the three main English parties have promised to find more money for the health service; although, as former chief executive Sir David Nicholson pointed out on Thursday, nothing like enough. All of them have promised to support present chief executive Simon Stevens’ ‘Five Year Forward View’; although only the Liberal Democrats have come close to spelling out what that might mean in terms of local upheaval.

And all three have become embroiled in a curious bidding war to offer the best access to GP services; although only the Liberal Democrats, again, have suggested that access might include digital access. The other two parties, who may serve older voters, are fixated on helping them get old fashioned appointments.

Now, healthcare IT is never going to swing the course of an election. But the fact that it is missing from the present debate entirely is worrying. It suggests the parties haven’t really grasped – or don’t want to tell voters – what reform will mean.

Also, that they don’t want to tell them investing in data and IT will be essential for delivering change. And that it is older voters – not digital natives – who will be prime candidates for tech-enabled monitoring and support.

Despite this, Paul Hodgkin, in what is sadly his last ever column for EHI News, argues that bigger forces are in play. Modern, mobile technology is handing information to users, who are starting to use it in increasingly disruptive ways. How big institutions like the NHS cope is the real healthcare IT story of the next few years. But it might be nice if politicians at least engaged with that.



Lib Dem manifesto promises GPs by Skype

The Liberal Democrats have promised to open up access to GPs by using phone and Skype appointments in their manifesto.

Tory manifesto re-runs access pledge

The Conservative Party has promised to continue the NHS transparency agenda and to give people “full access” to their electronic health records in its manifesto.

Labour manifesto fails to focus on IT

The Labour Party has launched its manifesto for the upcoming general election, promising a more integrated health and care system, but not one that will make more use of IT.

e-Referral Service 'live on 15 June'

The new NHS e-Referral Service will go-live on 15 June as part of plans to replace all paper-based referrals.

US calls out health information blockers

Health IT suppliers have been called out for blocking information flows to promote their narrow economic interests ahead of the biggest US health IT event of the year.

Geisinger sets SMART apps on FHIR

US healthcare provider, Geisinger Health System, has unveiled an EnrG suite of interoperable software applications, able to link to multiple electronic health records, using common standards.

Open source VNA fits digital ‘jigsaw’

The UK launch of an open source vendor neutral archive is a “key piece of the jigsaw puzzle” to create an open digital health ecosystem, NHS England’s head of open source has said.

Cerner app on time for Apple Watch

Cerner has developed a personalised healthcare data app to use on the Apple Watch, hailing the device as "the next evolution" in healthcare.

Quote of the week


“The NHS doesn’t need warm words, it needs hard cash. But we also need to help the NHS adapt so it is fit for the challenges of the 21st century. That is why we have a plan to introduce modern technology that will help patients, with more doctors’ appointments and repeat prescriptions at the touch of a button.”

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg ignites EHI News’ election coverage by promising to invest in Skype for GPs.




Paper cuts - paperless election special

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s call for a ‘paperless’ NHS was the big healthcare IT initiative of the past five years of coalition government. But are we close to achieving it – or even knowing what it means? Thomas Meek investigates.

Power to the people: signs off

Paul Hodgkin, the former GP and founder of Patient Opinion, reflects on a non-Marxist, Marxian revolution in his last column for EHI.


Featured comment


“Yes, there is a chance that my conversation with my GP could be hacked by the US government. But, honestly, if someone wants to hack into my Skype call to listen in on a conversation about my tennis elbow, then so be it.”

By: PositiveChange
Story: Lib Dem manifesto promises GPs by Skype.




The diary was quite pathetically excited to see the return of the lesser spotted “£12 billion NHS super computer” to political debate the other day. Conservative Party leader David Cameron made a lot of “Labour’s hubristic NHS supercomputer” during the last election campaign.

On the one hand, it allowed him to promise that the Tories wouldn’t bring in big social programmes with bigger IT projects to support them (so goodness knows where Universal Credit came from). And on the other hand, it allowed him to promise to support business, by opening up the public sector to smaller companies and using open standards (readers can fill in for themselves how well that has gone).

Little things like, erm, even the National Programme for IT never planned to do anything as daft as build a supercomputer did not deter him. This time out, it is Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg who has played the supercomputer card. Responding to Labour’s GP access promises, he said he was disinclined to take policy advice from “a party that blew £12 billion on an NHS supercomputer.” His party is just planning to spend £250 million on Skype for GPs.


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