IT news: News round-up


The latest deployment and solutions news from the healthcare IT sector

Nuffield research to inform UK services

THE Nuffield Trust is using SAS software and services to combine millions of health records in a bid to identify trends and issues that could help the Government make important decisions about the future of healthcare in the UK. The project combines information from millions of records in different formats from GP practices, local authorities and social care agencies which is then ‘cleaned’ and brought together to form a single patient view. The analysis is being used to spot key patterns and issues that will shape future health policies and decisions in the UK. Adam Steventon, senior research analyst at the Nuffield Trust, said: “Our goal is to make sure policy is informed by evidence as far as possible and our work does lead to different decisions on health policy development and commissioning being taken. Our approach is novel; we pull together information from large data sets to give people on the ground as up-to-date a picture as possible, improving clinical outcomes, quality of care and the patient experience.”

Website to improve CVD outcomes

A NEW online tool will help the NHS improve the treatment of cardiovascular disease, according to experts. Compiled by the South East Public Health Observatory, the tool can be used to assess the impact of cardiovascular diseases on local populations. It also shows the quality and availability of services and where a stronger focus on prevention could improve outcomes. It will be used to target resources and drive up standards. Dr Max Kammerling, NHS consultant in public health medicine at the observatory, said: “The overall national picture is very positive, with an established trend of fewer deaths from cardiovascular diseases, and improved access to, and wider adoption of better treatments. However, a closer look at the data uncovers hotspots which show higher mortality rates amongst people who live in socio-economically deprived areas. The challenge for local health services will be to continue to direct efforts to reaching those communities, working with them to reduce the major contributors to developing cardiovascular diseases, such as smoking, obesity and poor diet.”

Kent surgery gets a BigHand

BIGHAND digital dictation technology has been deployed at the Ivy Court Surgery in Kent, streamlining the way GPs and secretaries work. Incorporating 10 authors and three secretaries, the BigHand for Healthcare solution will help eliminate breakdowns associated with previous tape-based systems, allow secretaries to share work, and enable better prioritisation. Debbie Brown, medical secretarial team leader at the surgery, said: “The working practices of the secretarial team have completely changed with the implementation of BigHand. Urgent dictations can now be typed as soon as they have been dictated by the GPs and any letter being collected by the patient can be marked with a due date. The secretaries can then ensure this is typed and signed ready for collection. The improvement on the time taken to type urgent referrals has been of considerable benefit to the practice and the patients and the secretaries do not need to constantly search through tapes for urgent dictation, thus saving time. In addition, the workflow has improved considerably with the movement of dictation throughout the practice, thus benefitting the GPs, secretaries and patients.”

Solution helps link NHS and local authorities

A NEW secure gateway has been launched that will allow NHS trusts and local authorities to access each other's data resources more easily. Cable and Wireless Worldwide has recently established the Government Connect Secure Extranet N3 Interconnect Service, providing the foundation for more integrated health and social care by enabling secure, reliable and efficient information sharing between local government and the NHS. The service has already been adopted by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, where programme manager, Simon Watton, said: “This makes commercial and business sense. Our priorities are speed of implementation, high resilience, expandability and predicted lower cost of ownership, all of which were met with this implementation. It also helps us realise further cost savings as we do not have to obtain and maintain two separate connections and is much simpler as we have a single point of contact for both services.” Patrick Clark, head of Government Connect, added: “The ability for local authority staff to securely and conveniently access NHS data from their desktops using existing infrastructure and processes is an exciting development and a major boost to the drive towards more integrated health and social care service provision. There is potential for the N3 Interconnect Service to be utilised by central as well as local government and I am hopeful that it will increasingly become the principal way for the Government to communicate securely and effectively with the NHS.”

Care service website wins innovation award

A NATIONAL online initiative that helps people find care and support services has won an innovation award in its first six months. was the Silver Award winner in the Innovation of the Year category at The Business Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Portsmouth News and BAe Systems. Husband and wife, Rob and Lynn Osborne, who established two years ago and launched it last autumn, were presented with a trophy at an awards ceremony at Portsmouth Guildhall. Mr Osborne said: “We know the work we are doing is truly innovative and that there is no-one else out there doing exactly the same thing, but it is still fantastic to be recognised in this way.” His wife added: “It is also a tribute to our member companies and care providers who have shown their faith in us and become part of the story.”


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The Royal Free Hospital's physiotherapy team has introduced a new online form to make it easier for patients to cancel or reschedule appointments…Sunquest Information Systems hasannounced three enhancements to its ICE 5.0 Solution Suite for use in primary and secondary care trusts.