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EHI EHealth Insider Highlights

Tech fund 2 money may return – Hunt
Election won’t stop 5YFV – Stevens
An open path to success

Welcome [*data('2.first_name')|html*] Issue No 673, 6 March 2015 twitter contact



This time of year is a difficult time to hold a healthcare IT conference. If there’s an election on, there's only a few weeks until Whitehall goes into ‘purdah’, and politicians are already in full-on election mode.

Senior civil servants can only say what they have said before; that NHS reform is necessary and IT needs to be part of that. Slightly less senior civil servants can only say they are working hard on the details; ministerial approval for actual plans being necessary.

So, at e-Health Week in Olympia, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens duly said that the ‘Five Year Forward View’ is there for politicians of all stripes, and IT is one of its pillars. And those tasked with taking forward the ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020’ IT framework duly said they were in the ‘discovery’ phase of their projects, for which roadmaps will be published in June or July.

Strangely, hardly anybody mentioned the elephant in the room; what cutting £200 million off the £240 million tech fund 2, diverting it to winter pressures, and then not even spending it on A&E departments, might say about the real importance accorded to long-term thinking or IT in the health service.

Although health secretary Jeremy Hunt did put a brave face on the slashing; presenting it as a new, phased, approach. Fortunately, some projects just soldier on. Take a bow the Adapter Project, which has spent years getting trusts and councils in London to stop faxing admission and discharge information to each other and to use secure email instead.

The project is now moving on to alerts to and from IT systems; with Whittington Health and Islington Council the first to take this step, using software from System C, Liquidlogic, and Quicksilva.



Tech fund 2 money may return – Hunt

Nearly £200 million slashed from NHS England’s technology fund may be reinstated in future as part of a “staged roll-out”, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Election won’t stop 5YFV – Stevens

The “success or failure” of the new models of care outlined in the NHS 'Five Year Forward View' depend on the contribution of healthcare IT, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told the crowd at the e-Health Week conference in London.

NHS Choices to broaden audience

The NHS Choices website must expand beyond its current audience of “healthy, wealthy mums” to meet the needs of elderly and poor citizens, NHS England's head of digital services has said.

Code4Health launches

The revived Code4Health programme has finally launched, with the first pilot courses for clinicians taking place this month.

Trust and council in discharge first

Whittington Health and Islington Council have become the first organisations in the country to go live with a new project to improve information sharing between the NHS and social care.

Tower Hamlets leads on mental health

NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group is taking the lead on a new £2.4 million digital mental health service covering all of London.

EPRs 'could prompt med neg claims'

The growing use of electronic patient records could encourage a culture of “electronic ambulance chasing” as people hunt for evidence of medical negligence, according to new research.



The National Information Board held an open meeting at e-Health Week this week, to discuss the progress of the various workstreams that have been set up to take forward ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020.’ One of these is working on the “endorsement” of health apps – as the plan to “kitemark” them is now known, to the complete non-surprise of anyone who has ever dealt with the British Standards Institution legal department, which patrols the use of its trade mark with commendable vigour.

Anyway, Jonathan Marron explained that the idea of “endorsing” apps was to make sure that clinicians and patients could pick “credible” apps out of the mass of stuff on offer on iTunes, the Apple store, and so forth. While the workstream does its thing, consumers must weigh up other sources of advice. Such as the Mail Online, which asked recently: “Can you hypnotise yourself thin with a £4.99 app?” particularly if it is the Paul McKenna ‘hypnotic gastric band’ app that “claims to convince the ‘unconscious mind’ that a surgical implant has been fitted.” Medics interviewed were not convinced.





An open path to success

The Free Diagnostic Pathology Software Project is an EHI Award winning open source product that aims to improve cancer diagnosis. Jennifer Trueland talks to its developer, Fred Mayall.

Another view: mind the gap

GP Neil Paul wonders why an “implementation gap” so often opens up between a simple idea and actually doing it; whether that’s handing out tablet computers, or providing remote access to records and systems.


Featured comment


“'In almost any scenario there are a number of broad changes in the Five Year Forward View that need to be brought about. This is not administrative restructuring, these are changes in the way we support patients and people of this country.' Couldn't this have been said by the authors of all previous plans for major restructuring in the NHS?”

By: Mary Hawking
Story: Election won’t stop 5YFV – Stevens


Quote of the week


“Our users are predominantly healthy, wealthy mums, and they’re important because they often look after their families, but we can do a lot more to meet the needs of those who are less well off or older.”

Helen Rowntree, NHS England’s head of digital services, explains why it wants to improve NHS Choices, at e-Health Week in Olympia.


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