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Monday, September 19, 2011

Notes from the Royal College of Physicians 10th Anniversary celebration of the Health Informatics Unit – Part 3

Prof. Severs' talk was so engaging that we failed to put pen to paper! If memory serves, Prof. Severs (Chair of the NHS Information Standards Board for Health & Social Care; Assistant Dean in Clinical Practice, University of Portsmouth) lamented the lack of any systematic informatics education in the medical curriculum - it was later commented that those in charge of the curriculum asserted that it was already too full! to include such a component. Apologies for the lack of info. on this talk, if we can get hold of further info we will post it here.

Dr William Dixon gave the final talk and spoke very clearly on the necessity of including research and audit data requirements in the design of electronic patient records - he clearly demonstrated the intersect of the three areas of endeavour (clinical, research and audit) thus far addressed by multiple systems where perhaps one might catch all - this with reference to the Arthritis UK INBANK project and the Danish DANBIO record.

The panel discussion covered the need for clinicians and patients alike to develop their informatics competency - which lead our blogger to think the following rambling thoughts: if our clinicians and patient are being encouraged to become informaticians, what future for our informaticians? Doctors have long been lampooned for their indecipherable handwriting which is often attributed to time pressure in the consultation room and on the ward - certainly when one of our team was managing a unit collecting clinical data for research from patient notes, poor handwriting was a significant retrograde factor! Should we really be encouraging our clinicians to understand SNOMED, ICD-10 etc. or to use complex interfaces in a setting in which they are attempting to stop the computer screen becoming a barrier between medic and patient - should both doctor and patient be expected to become adept clinical coders and data architects? Or should we as informaticians be concentrating on creating the interfaces which allow interpretation of plain-english entries into the underlying data elements necessary to support audit, research and clinical care? Real language interpretation should be able to support huge time savings across the industry.

One not to be named (except perhaps for a fee) attendee drew a picture of a brontosaur on his notepad as the President of the RCP was rounding up and expressing his concerns about clinicians' ability to enter data into computers whilst in the demanding setting of the consultation or ward round - we feel that this observation on behalf of the not to be named doctor slightly overstates the case that these are the concerns of a generation not au fait with the use and potential of ubiquitous IT hardware and software - there remains much to be done before these concerns can be disregarded as not of this era!

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