Health Informatics Research Group (HIRG) Conference

ICC Birmingham 2.12.02

Personal report by Rod Ward

The official web site for this conference is at:

Sheila Price

This conference was organised by Sheila Price of the Health Informatics Research Group from the Department of Information Science, Loughborough University.

It was held at the ICC Birmingham and chaired by Professor Ron Summers and attended by 40-50 delegates (with about half appearing to be from Loughborough).

Ron Summers

The keynote presentation was by Tom Jones, VP, Medical Division Oracle who considered various issues under the title of: Patient participation in e-records. He described problems with handwritten records, e.g. handwritten, unsigned and difficulties in coding. He argued that patients should be able to enter their own data and described a small study (? Mid Cheshire NHS Trust) showing a better predictive score of patient outcome from patient data than GP referral notes. he also emphasised the importance of patient permission for health staff to be able to view the record. Pracle

Tony Hassan The second presentation was by Tony Hassan from Objectsoft who under the title securing the Internet considered the use of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and it's application in healthcare, particularly in relation to sending sensitive data via email, based on his experience in the financial services sector. He described issues around the insecurity of the Internet and "identity theft" along with some of problems with third party digital signature processed i.e. expensive, inflexible and bureaucratic. He argued for digital certificates to be issued as part of an employers HR function, reducing the need to produce evidence of identity several times. He also discussed the developing XML standard which may replace the current X509 standard.

An update on the NHS National IT strategy was next on the agenda, delivered by Andrew Scheiner, Regional Service Coordinator for London for the NHSIA. He described some of the achievements so far and then, using the "Greek Temple" which was referred to by several other speakers during the day, described the national and local infrastructure for the Integrated Care Records System (ICRS) and some of the "phasing issues" with implementation. Andrew Scheiner
Greek Temple

NMAP I gave the next presentation about Internet Gateways for Health, describing the rational & development of NMAP and some evaluation work.

The presentation can be seen here

I also gave brief information about the new JISC Resource Guide for Health and Life Sciences which will be available soon at:

The lunch break provided good opportunities for networking with friends and colleagues and developing new contacts
Networking at lunch

The first presentation of the afternoon was by Alan Jones, Business development manager CSW limited who examined e-record implementation. He showed how CSW has built upon previous work, particularly at EPR pilot sites and viewing the record from the patients perspective have based e-records systems on XML technologies that are being implemented in several NHS trusts. He showed various screens to illustrate what their product can do and described how with thin client technology it can be delivered to the point of care. Aolan Jones

Ardo Reinsalu Ardo Reinsalu, Managing Director of Curonia Research in Estonia, then discussed Home based cardiac monitoring using examples from the EU funded Doc@Home project. This involves a small handheld unit for use by the patient at home which sends signals or bio electrical measurements e.g. ECG & cardiac output, over ordinary phone lines to a datawarehouse where it can be seen by the patients clinician and (in an annonymised form) by researchers. These can then be used to identify trends and predict crises, leading to reduced admissions and following episodes of acute care to be used at home enabling earlier discharge.

Tom Spyt, Chief Cardiac Surgeon at Glenfield Hospital then gave a presentation with his colleague Maria Boehm about on-line patient support: They described the rational behind the development of this interactive resource and the consultation process, with patients friends and GPs they undertook in it's design. The main feature asked for by users was to have individual queries answered by the medical staff and this has been included on the site along with health education and other information in attempt to increase patient autonomy and as a resource for informed consent. Tom Spyt

Mayur Lakhani The final speaker of the day was Mayur Lakhani, Chair of communications and publishing, Royal College of General Practitioners who talked about ICTs within the Primary care setting. He started by discussing the volume of literature/evidence and the need for kitemarking and summaries of evidence. He linked this to quality systems e.g. NICE, CHI etc. and models of clinical governance. He considered the information needs of Primary Care Organisations (PCTs in England) and the possible effects of new GP contracts. He looked into the future and suggested ICT could be as important as DNA profiling.

The proceedings of the conference will be produced on CD and in addition the presentations and question and answer sessions which followed them are to be analysed for key themes.

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