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November 26, 2006

All Change

doctor-film.jpgTechnology, shifting demographics and better informed customers will bring about the biggest changes in the NHS's history. But the reorganisation needed to meet the changes may not please everyone.

For example, the UK's Daily Mail described the tension between Nurse Practitioners and GPs at a walk-in centre in Canary Wharf, London.

To take part in Whole System Long-term Care Demonstrators, the UK's Department of Health is asking the NHS and Local Authorities to work together, supported by technology. But how will they do that?

Many of the pilot studies of long-term care have been telecare, or assisting people to remain remain independent at home. Very worthy. But telecare will not benefit the majority of people with long-term conditions who care for themselves. To support them and reduce demand for expensive hospital admissions we need real time monitoring on an unprecedented scale. New organisations and jobs are inevitable.

Technology is also making medical knowledge a commodity and medical pracitioners must adapt. A study published by the British Medical Journal suggests GPs unsure of a diagnosis search the internet with Google. That study used a general search engine: what levels of diagnostic accuracy will be achieved by specialist neural nets and the application of Bayesian learning?

November 16, 2006

Blogging and Healthcare

Dale Hunscher (who runs the US cousin of this site) has written a book: Blogging for Health Professionals Using TypePad: a jump-start approach. The Internet fundamentally changed the relationship between patient and clinician and blogging is a way for healthcare to adapt. More than ever clinicians and healthcare organisations need to build trust with their customers, and the use of social software, like blogs, is a way to do it.

Dale tells healthcare practitioners how to set up a blog on Typepad that will build their reputation and attract customers. Each stage of the set up is clearly described and once your blog is up and running he tells you how to drive visitors to it.

Dale sells Blogging for Health Professionals Using Typepad as an eBook, which means it's less expensive and you can download and read it now .

November 13, 2006

Long Term Care Demonstrators

Hand holding a walking cane.That will teach me to ask rhetorical questions at the end of posts.

In a previous post on management of chronic conditions I asked where remote monitoring appeared in the vision for the NHS and in its NPfIT. The DoH has announced its intention to fund up to three Whole System Long Term Care Demonstrators covering a population of one million. The pilots will run for up to two years.

It will be interesting to see how the pilots are organised and their technical solutions. The DoH wants the NHS and Local Authorities to partner. The workings of such partnerships--which could include contributions from the primary and acute care in the NHS as well as the private, voluntary, charitable and private sectors--will be key to their succeess. And where will organisations like NHS Direct fit in, I wonder? All in all, we should gain insight into the structure of future healthcare and the technical, human and organisational dynamics needed to support it.

Partnerships will be able to draw upon offerings from 15 suppliers from a pre-competed Telecare National Framework Agreement.

November 03, 2006

Chronic Disease Management (More)

Continuing the theme of chronic disease management, I notice Dale Hunscher on the US cousin of this site has posted on the use of the Internet in managing chronic disease. The post also refers to Cognitive Based Therapy websites that allow supported self-management of some psychiatric disorders. Take a look.

November 01, 2006

Healthcare on Wireless Waves

Toumaz device being used.My previous post discussed the reality of remote health monitoring. I noted the high compliance of study participants monitored using large arrays of stick-on sensors. Such discomfort may now be unnecessary.

Toumaz Technologies has developed new, small, low power, wireless sensors that can be attached to the body with sticking plasters. These devices enable non-intrusive, continuous monitoring and analysis of ECG, temperature and at least one other vital sign, such as respiration or activity level. Vital signs are transmitted to a PDA or mobile phone and monitored with software that includes an arrhythmia detection algorithm for real-time monitoring of ECG.

You may also be interested in an article I wrote for an IT innovation magazine about real-time remote health monitoring (well, everyone likes to back a winner sometime) though I was thinking of a wristband.

Visit the Toumaz site for more on their device.