Everyday Computing, Features

State of Health

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

EVEN the most optimistic person should recognise that a new physical structure, however impressive, is only part of the solution to a problem. Imagine if new wine bottles were able to produce new wine, or new churches could produce new saints, then the solution to a problem would simply be the construction of a new product, building, road, or computer system. In the book entitled “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” Eric Raymond notes that “the most striking and innovative solutions come from realising that the concept of the problem was wrong.” Raymond also warns that if something does not work as well as you have been “led to expect”, then it’s no good, no matter how clever or original it is.

With the recent focus on our health industry, and the naming of the new Owen King EU National Hospital over the Independence weekend, these lessons are worth recalling, and heeding. When it comes to our health care system, which involves the lives of our families, neighbours, and friends, we must demand and expect a level of treatment that is consistently first-class. The alternative is to accept “system failures” that:

* Mistakenly declare you to be cured of a persistent illness;
* Cause an expectant mother to lose her baby;
* Allow a health epidemic to go unnoticed.

The term “never event” refers to preventable harmful events with respect to patient safety and the quality of care received. The software used in a health care environment must support the rigorous levels of safety that every patient deserves. Although we may tolerate inefficient service in other public institutions, we should be unforgiving of mistakes in the health sector. Delays in getting a passport or identity document are inconvenient, but a misdiagnosis may be deadly.

In a mission-critical health care environment, a range of ICT and other technology may help in the effective delivery of care. For example:

* Display Resolution: An X-Ray or MRI scan viewed improperly on a low-resolution display, may obscure a cancer diagnosis;
* Data Storage: The incorrect storage of medical records, or application of a lossy compression algorithm, may lead to disaster;
* Electronic Record: The patient record must be secure, accurate, available, and updated in real time;
* Business Continuity: Being prepared to cope if things fail, is a major step in delivering quality care;
* Business Intelligence: Understanding the value of your data, and underlying trends, can lead to improved care.

Every citizen, resident, visitor, and unborn child, is one mishap away from being a patient. You might even be unconscious, and therefore completely dependant on all systems working correctly. That is the standard of care that you should expect, and which we all deserve. It is neither to be taken lightly, nor to be watched through the prism of partisanship. We do so at our peril.

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The Voice.

Dr Lyndell St. Ville spent years working in the health sector in the UK, managing mental health and community health systems, and in a primary care commissioning environment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend