The true and noble purpose of health informatics

Digital Health
I was asked this week to provide a succinct definition of health informatics. I am aware that this is something of a minefield. There are many learned organisations who provide definitions, and probably there are as many other definitions as there are health informaticians. It did however cause me to consider whether my view of health informatics has changed in the 30 years that I have been working in the field. So my personal view (I don’t presume to call it a definition) is that: Health informatics is the management of information to support optimal decision-making in order to achieve optimal health outcomes. Please note, there is no reference to technology in this statement. However, for practical purposes my description needs to be amplified by an additional statement: Whilst this…
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The UCLAN Health Informatics Dinner on September 28th

Uncategorized
20 years ago, John Howard and I were asked to developed a new MSc course. In order to meet the needs of our potential students, we decided that we needed a blended learning solution. We validated the first MSc to be delivered by blemnded online learning at the University, and the course has run ever since. Find out more here To celebrate 20 years of health informatics at UCLAN and to mark John and Bev's long service, we held a celebration at the Oaks Hotel, where we held many weekend residentials. (Spot the naughty sofa!) The evening was a great success, thanks to all who attended.
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Product safety matters

Product safety
It is often underestimated just how dangerous our homes are. If we needed a sad and terrible reminder, then the Grenfell tower fire should have provided it. Psychologically, the fact that our homes are our place of safety, makes the harm that happens there all the more disturbing. Amongst the threats that we find in our homes, unsafe products feature surprisingly often. For example, in 2014/15 there were 31,300 electrical fires according to the Home Office of which 36% were due to faulty appliances and leads. Now the UK Government, through the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has produced its strategy to improve product safety. At the heart of the strategy is PAS 7100, the code of practice for better product safety recalls and other corrective action. This…
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Health Informatics at UCLAN is 20 years old this year!

Uncategorized
20 years ago, John Howard and I were asked to developed a new MSc course. In order to meet the needs of our potential students, we decided that we needed a blended learning solution. We validated the first MSc to be delivered by blended online learning at the University, and the course has run ever since. Whilst I have not been involved formally since 2010, I have maintained contact with John as course leader. Bev Ellis who joined us in the early days has also  stayed with the programme, and since 2010, Bev and John, helped by Paul Reid and, more recently, James Hill have run the programme as an online programme. In 2018, the programme is evolving again. Jane Fitzgerald, one of our own alumni, is  joining the team.…
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The NHS at 70. How informed are we?

Digital Health, Uncategorized
The UK national health service has reached its 70th birthday. There is, in my view, no better national health care system when it comes to achieving its goal of providing universal healthcare irrespective of one’s ability to pay. When the NHS started, our information system was the Lloyd George envelope. Today, in the NHS we make use of some of the latest modern technology, including latest information technology. We hear about how artificial intelligence is going to help us address the ever increasing challenge of meeting the needs of an ageing population. During a recent patient episode, And MRI scan was considered a routine part of my care at my local district Hospital. So how are we to judge the use of technology to provide the best information to support…
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In memory of Dr Dilys Jones

Digital Health
Dilys and I had finished writing a book when she was taken ill in late 2017. This book has now been published in Dilys’ memory and all proceeds will go to charity in her memory. For those of you who have been influenced by her, or even perhaps by me, I hope you will find this book useful and a fitting tribute. Information Governance, Technology and Management for General Practice: a guide to staying out of trouble Information technology is a key tool for GP practices in providing the best possible care for their patients by having the right information at the right time in the right place. But are you and your colleagues getting the best results from your computers and the information they provide? This book will help…
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I have come to obtain your consent

AGLC
"I HAVE COME TO OBTAIN YOUR CONSENT" Not the opening lines from the next Bond film, but the opening gambit of a doctor at my bedside in hospital where I was awaiting surgery. Consent should not be "obtained", it should be freely given. Although we have come to understand the need for consent in medicine, and the need for it to be informed, we have made less progress in giving people meaningful options. Maybe there aren't any, but lets not pretend we are offering choice where there is none. Now lets translate this into consent to process and share my personal information. In my view, consent is "obtained" when: 1. The user is presented with a tick box which you must tick before being able to access the resource 2.…
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All the world’s a model

All the world’s a model

AGLC
All the world’s a model (at least that’s how we see it) and what that means for the NHS Have you asked yourself what Science does? Science seeks to explain things. It looks at the world and then produces theories of what is happening. A theory is a model of what is happening. We use that model to predict new events and the model remains valid until it is contradicted by observation and we have to find a better model that is able to predict the new events as well as cope with the old one. This is the view of Science that I learnt at School and can is encapsulated within Popper’s view of Science based upon empirical falsifiability published in The Logic of Scientific Discovery in 1934. In…
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The Power of Information (or we’re not all doomed)

AGLC
When I was young, I watched Basil Brush on Saturday tea time before Doctor Who. I remember once he said, you can always tell when the news is on, because it's the bit where the bad guys win. In 2017, it feels that we're watching the news 24/7, because with 24 hours rolling news, we actually are. And it's all pretty depressing. Ever since the economic downturn of 2008, our leaders and our media told us it's bad but there is no alternative. It's pretty much a rerun of the 1980s, when many people saw their communities ripped apart and we had riots on the streets and a dreadful destructive miners strike which tore the heart of areas like the North east of England and South Wales. The unintended consequence…
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Five myths from a digital health workshop

Five myths from a digital health workshop

AGLC, Digital Health
Here are my favourite (!) Myths inspired by every health informatics/digital health event I have ever been to. Myth 1: You really need a rubber frog computer mouse/USB stick First priority at the event is to visit the exhibition and to garner all the freebies. There's always one exhibitor who's gone the extra mile and is giving away the freebie that everybody wants. Question is, what will you do with afterwards? How long will it take you to lose it in the bottom of your handbag, or leave it in your hotel room? Myth 2: You cannot get through more than an hour without coffee Every workshop agenda becomes a series of coffee breaks punctuated by sessions of speakers. Do we really need that much coffee? Is this healthy? Are…
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