Blogs

Five myths from a digital health workshop

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?

The Power of Information (or we're not all doomed)

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.

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 big data protection story of 2012

Normally, stories about privacy and data protection have limited impact on the mainstream media. However, throw in a princess, the next heir to the British crown, and a tragedy and you have enough interest even for the tabloids to put it front page. The timing was also significant, coming just after the Leveson inquiry had published its report into the press and its illegal activities in relation to phone hacking and other methods of obtaining personal information. There seem to a lot of key issues which have been lost in the emotion and tabloid treatment of the story.

All the world’s a model (at least that’s how we see it) and what that means for the NHS

All the world’s a model (at least that’s how we see it) and what that means for the NHS

The website is dead - Long live the website.

The website is dead. Long live the website. The humble web site appears to be dying. Apparently the future belongs to Facebook, tablets, smartphones and apps. For those of us old enough to remember the history of computer science this is like going back to the future. Many of the platforms discussed are proprietary and closed systems products which are takes us back to the days of mainframes. In those far off days of yore you were stuck with buying your operating system and applications from the same supplier.

Risk - it's all relative

People sometimes have odd ideas about relative risks. In my books on data protection*, I cite talking as a big risk to protecting personal information, and people in general as the biggest risk of all.

One of my favourite questions when I meet a new company or organisation is to ask "Who would you ask if you wanted to find out the latest gossip?"

Often the answer is someone whom management might consider to have a minor role in the company: a secretary, telephonist or cleaner.

The new website

Those who have visited my website before will note the new look and design changes. Those who know me will know I get easily bored. But this is not the reason for the change.

The world has moved on. The World Wide Web has gone mobile.

What's wrong with elearning?

Generally quite a lot actually. Here's a list of the problems I see.

Joining up is hard to do

The history of IT and the NHS is not as bad as it is often painted. It's taken a while but computerised GP records are the norm. This forms the backbone of the health promotion agenda at the heart of the Quality Outcomes Framework (QOF) delivering major preventative benefits. Preventing illness is not dramatic in the sense of Casualty or ER, but personally speaking I'd rather avoid the hospital and the illness if at all possible. Routine decision support seeks to prevent prescribing errors both in terms of conflicting medications and personal adverse reactions.

I need your consent to process your personal information, right? It's the Data Protection Act

Most people think I need your consent to process your personal information, right? It's the Data Protection Act, isn't it? And it's right there in the first data protection principle which most people seem to think says:

Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless the individual who the personal data is about has consented to the processing

What it actually says is:

Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless –

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