BBC: NHS warned on computer spending

Two more articles in continuing coverage of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) computerization effort: One article from the BBC states: ‘…Recent reports from the National Audit Office “graphically illustrated” the need for improved information about equipment, bed management and hospital acquired infections, said the Tory MP [David Davis]. “Time and again, we have seen poor design, poor implementation and weak cost control,” he said. Link courtesy of Richard Shilling. The second article in Computer Weekly is an editorial about open source and the dangers of NHS cozying up to Microsoft: ‘…The Government will be taking a huge risk – should it be unsatisfied with the projects, will it be easy to move to another supplier? And how much would such a move cost? Microsoft’s track record on producing technology that can be easily integrated with that of its competitors raises an ominous spectre here… Link courtesy of Dave Scott.

Information Week: Get Well, Fast

Information Week has an article about the implications of having and not having healthcare information technology in the face of a bio-terrorism attack: ‘…Information-sharing among government health agencies and across health-care organizations still depends mostly on the phone, fax, and mail. That raises concerns about whether the health-care industry has the kind of collaboration tools needed to spot a biological threat quickly enough to contain it.

“This crisis is a wake-up call for the health-care industry to leverage IT for support and integration of care,” says Martin Lustick, Kaiser Permanente’s VP and associate medical director for operations… This link courtesy of Wayne Wilson.

BJHC: Open-source software for the NHS

Dr Adrian Midgley, Dr Douglas Carnall and Colin Smith have an article (abstract only, subscription required) in the British Journal of Healthcare Computing: ‘ Proprietary software places purchasers at their suppliers’ mercy for support and customisation; lock-in is the rule. Open-source software ensures that code is freely available for anyone to download and use. Software businesses that tailor and service the software for organisations can still be profitable but will free users from supplier lock-in. Several NHS organisations are already deploying open-source software with considerable satisfaction. Open-source development methods have yet to be widely used in the healthcare domain, but there are many lessons for the developers of applications. Thanks to Dave Scott for this link.

Information Technology and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Ethical Issues

Medscape (registration required) has an article on the ethical issues of Informatics in child and adolescent Psychiatry here: ‘…Principal among ethical issues concerning children and adolescents are those of their vulnerability and need for protection by either parents, guardians, or agencies; the complexity involved in transitioning from childhood to adolescence; and the problems innate to divorce and joint guardianship. Principal among ethical issues concerning psychiatric patients are those of confidentiality, the right to quality information, and the right to be informed of how information about patients may be used…

MSJ: Third Wave unravels mysteries of disease through DNA research

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a report on a particularly interesting Biotech company, Third Wave: ‘…Third Wave is one of dozens of companies searching for the holy grail of genetic research, to reach a point that by examining a person’s genetic profile, doctors can predict a predisposition to disease or an adverse reaction to a particular drug.

In the dawning era of so-called personalized medicine, drugs and treatments will be specifically tailored to the individual…’

The Guardian: Gates to help modernize NHS

The Guardian is reporting on Bill Gates upcoming trip to Britain: ‘Alan Milburn, the health secretary, has enlisted Bill Gates to help pull the health service out of the stone age in information technology. The Microsoft chairman will fly to Britain this week to tell chief executives of NHS trusts how to develop integrated systems to produce improvements in the speed and quality of patient care…’ It will be interesting to see what happens if MS goes into this in a big way since historically healthcare has swallowed one health IT reformer after another.