Monday, September 24, 2012

The NHS is a technological wasteland

On Friday I went to visit a good mate who is in hospital. I will not name the hospital but it is one of London’s largest and best known.

All very bright and nice, large café, M&S store – the very model of a modern PFI hospital. 

You arrive at the ward and there is a big red button that you press to gain access. 

You press it – nothing happens.

Press it again – look through the window – nobody takes a blind bit of notice. 

Press it again – this time one of the visitors comes and lets you in. He shrugs and says that nurses ignore it and the only people that open the door are other visitors. 

You wonder, why have the sodding thing, if nurses ignore it and it is freely opened to anybody.Never mind, that is not the reason for writing this blog.

A very nice young nurse comes around and attaches a new handwritten plastic tag to my chum. Totally understandable that the hospital needs to know who are in their beds. Another nurse comes along with an automated blood pressure, temperature oxygen level recorder. The digital output flashes away and she then transcribes this information to a paper form, where all of the other handwritten data is recorded.

Is the form - linked to the identity label – NO

Does the identity label have a bar code that enables them to scan to identify the person – NO

Does the device that collects the data record the information to a patient record – NO

The NHS had an IT Project that cost £12,000,000,000 and delivered very little. At the same time it is using 1920s processes. Makes you want to cry.

Most weeks I get contacted by a bright entrepreneur who has developed some great new app or monitor or something else that would help with tele-medicine/monitoring. As long as the primary provider of care and treatment operates (literally) in the dark ages it will be unable to take advantage of the technology that could save lives and a lot of money. 

Sure the NHS has lots of CAT scans and other high tech, that operates at about 50% utilisation, but the basic infrastructure technology is primitive and gives every indication of remaining so.

Advice to companies targeting the care / health sector. Forget the NHS. Go direct to the private patients and private hospitals. Dick Stroud

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