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Clinicians Thrash Informaticians

On 21 March 2006 the BCS London and South East Health Informatics Group sponsored a lively and light-hearted debate at the HC 2006 conference:

“This house believes that real innovation using ICT in healthcare delivery is driven by clinicians rather than informaticians.”

Simon Dodds and Mark Outhwaite proposed the motion and Ian Herbert and I opposed with Keith Clough in the chair.

I argued that healthcare in the UK was facing illness because of a shortage of cash and qualified staff and an aging population that is likely to lead to an increase in chronic disease. Never has healthcare needed ICT innovation more—but who will provide it?

I tacitly accepted that clinicians and informaticians must work as a MDT, but I was speaking against the motion. I had three main arguments:

  • Clinicians are experts in patient care, informaticians in ICT;

  • Informaticians have a broader view of healthcare than clinicians; and

  • Innovation is not about ideas, it’s about the implementation of ideas.

Cyber means “art of steering” in ancient Greek. Informaticians would be the cyberanauts building the pathways and finding the passages that led to a coherent, patient-centred healthcare system.

All to no avail, I'm afraid! After contributions from the audience—one of whom said he thought clinicians should be leading ICT innovation, and asked why then they didn't get on with it—the motion was carried by 18 votes to 9.

Rod from Informaticopia also wrote an official blog entry on the debate. In addition, Simon Dodds, a Consultant Vascular Surgeon and Innovator, is allowing me to use some comments that he emailed me in an entry to follow.

Reposted by FHIT on 29 March 2006 adding the hyperlink to Simon Dodds' entry.


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I took part in a light-hearted debate at the UK's Healthcare IT 2006 conference in March 2006, which I reported in a previous posting. The British Journal of Healthcare Computing "target="_blank"/">transcribed the debate PDF (96K).... [Read More]

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