Using Information and Communication Technology in Healthcare

Stuart Tyrrell 2002

A personal review by Rod Ward - 1.10.02

This book is the latest in the useful series "Harnessing Health Information" from Radcliffe Medical Press. In it Stuart Tyrrell explains many of the technologies and information processes currently in use.

The initial chapters provides a history and description of the PC and some components and then moves on to an overview of operating systems and software applications with a particular focus on databases. The book then moves on to describe Local Area Networks and expands into Wide Area Networks, NHSnet and the Internet. A range of data input and output devices are also considered.

The second half of the book examines issues around the management of ICT, touching on areas such as backup and disaster recovery , support and training and the policies necessary to support a diverse collection of hardware and software and users in varied contexts. Security considerations are addressed including virus transmission and "hackers" with discussion of user security, physical security and encryption systems. The next section deals with standards including the Data Protection Act, Caldicott guardians, and technical standards such as TCP/IP, XML and SMTP.

The final chapters deal with technologies for telemedicine and and attempt to extrapolate current trends into the short term future.

Although the book provides a reasonably comprehensive overview of some relevant technologies, it has only limited examples which relate these to healthcare. In fact 90% of the book could be considered a general IT text and healthcare easily omitted from the title. The other area which I felt was weak was the importance of human beings in the information management environment. The staff and patients who have to use these systems and the issues they raise are hardly addressed; the ways in which human thought processes (what Prof Brancko Cesnik describes as Wetware) are constrained by the technologies, and the interaction between them, needs further exploration.

The book seems to be aimed at junior IT staff (perhaps undertaking Professional Awards in IM&T), rather than clinical staff, but is unlikely to contain anything new for more senior IT professionals. The language is fairly simple and abbreviations are explained (along with a glossary of terms), but the IT focus is not likely to be welcomed by clinical staff who need to interact with the technology to gain information to support patient care.

Title: Using Information and Communication Technology in Healthcare
Author: Stuart Tyrrell
Publishers: Radcliffe Medical Press Ltd
No of pages: 156
Price: £not known
ISBN: 1 85775 469 7

This book is available from amazon

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Page Created: 30.10.2005
Last Updated: 3.9.03