Monday, January 28, 2008


The latest issues ( Volume 61, Number 1, February 2008) of Health Information on the Internet (HIOTI) has just been published. It includes:

TI: Personal health records
AU: Childs, Sue

TI: Building an accreditation scheme for health and social care information
AU: Reid, Graham

TI: The Information Accreditation Scheme Standard
AU: Reid, Graham

TI: Pharmacy
AU: Blenkinsopp, John

TI: View from the frontline: Blogging
AU: Brown, Harry

TI: Current literature
AU: Waddington, Marina

TI: What's new?
AU: Williamson, Laurian

Some of the papers look quite interesting.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Florida Nursing School Taps iPods, Patient Simulators for Training

Nursing students at Seminole Community College use patient simulators to learn new medical procedures without risking patient safety. The students also use video iPods to study medical procedure demonstrations and listen to lectures. Orlando Sentinel.

With the state facing a nursing shortage, the technology is intended to ensure that students graduate ready to work in hospitals. The nursing school uses three simulators -- "SimMan," SimBaby" and "Noel," a simulator of a pregnant woman. The simulators can help students learn "decision-making without hurting the patient," Cheryl Cicotti, director of nursing at Seminole Community College, said.

The patient simulators also let nursing students experience rare medical conditions that they might not have the opportunity to treat in a clinical setting because more experienced doctors or nurses would handle them.

In addition to the patient simulators, nursing students also use video iPods to study new concepts and skills. Students can load the iPods with lecture videos, demonstrations of medical procedures and electronic flash cards to review medical terminology, the Sentinel reports.Cicotti said students sometimes bring the iPods with them to the hospital so they can review an instructional video before they perform a procedure themselves,0,2029650.story

Friday, January 18, 2008

HEA HS&P - elearning SIG Meeting

Today I'm attending an meeting of the HEA HS&P elearning special interest group at the University of Wolverhampton.

Pam Moule opened proceedings introducing key speakers, and I followed with an piece on Internet history & movng on to blogs & wikis. I lost the audience when they all started to edit the Wikipedia enries for their institutions.

Linsey Duncan-Pitt went next descrbing some of her experiences with students using blogs, in PebblePad & issues of confidentiality but having them put on an nstitutional sevrer which couldn't be seen by others from around the world. Comments were made about links to other resources such as Flickr. Other issues were about students using resources which they don't want tutors to see & the level of control. The discussion moved into ePortfolios & portability and interoperability issues.

The role of MUVEs in education was led by Tim Johnson & raised issues about immersive education and assessing attitudes. Unfortunately not everyone could go into second life but 4 players in the room were able to meet in Education Island & looked at the NHS Polyclinic.

The links Tim pointed out included:

Newnexus -

Sloodle -

Blood Typing Game -

SL-Labs -

Educators Coop -

Kar2ouche storyboards -

America’s Army -

Hazmat Hotzone -

Revolution -

TruSim -

Activeworlds -

Complex Wiki -


Second Health -

Lunch involved some interesting discussions about the different innovations (and attached problems) which people were experiencing.

After lunch Chris Turnock from Northumbria University described an FDTL4 project "Making Practice Based Learning Work". He set out the background relating to the preparation of practice educators and learning from the project. Towards the end of the project the need beyond healthcare for similar materials led to another web site

The final part of the day was a meeting about the purposes and working practices of the group. An agreement was made to use the Moodle site within the SIG site to enahnce contacts, with 2 week discussions on particular topics. Paul Bartholomew who has recently taken up a post as elearning adviser to the subject centre agreed to take on much of the work which was suggested.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Computer games in medical education

Todays Guardian carries a piece by Ian Sample entitled Dexterity boost from games consoles hones surgery skills which describes a study from the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Centre, in Phoenix, Arizona, which asked eight trainee doctors to spend an hour playing games on a console before "performing surgery". Mark Marshall, the centres director of simulation and training, concluded that "Our trial shows this improves the skills of the surgeons when they are told to pick exercises within the games. It makes their training much, much quicker."

I can't currently find the full report on this but it seems to be one more example of the potential benefits of technology in health care professional education - it will be interesting to see if the benefits outweigh the costs.

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Internet in Healthcare - postive & negative studies

Tow stories arrived, within five minutes of each other, in my email inbox this morning, both relating to aspects of the Intenet in healthcare. One was positive and one negative.

One from The British Journal of Healthcare Computing & Information Management entitled Internet health searches could lead to dangerous results. This covers a report from the US Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) which suggests that Google searches for health information may be leading to dangerous medical decisions by the public. They carried out Google searches for cholesterol treatment and a type-2 diabetes. They found the majority of which appeared at the top of the hit list were websites paid for and sponsored by either class action law firms or legal marketing sites searching for plaintiff referrals. Other sites were sponsored by groups or individuals selling 'alternatives'.

The full report Insta-Americans: The Empowered (and Imperiled) Health Care Consumer in the Age of Internet Medicine by Robert Goldberg, Peter Pitts and Caroline Patton concludes that "Online information can add tremendous value for patients when used as a research tool for discussions with a doctor, but users should be aware of the sources of the information they find online and possible ulterior motives of site owners."

Its not a new or surprising finding but one that has implications for everyone.

The second story painted a different picture of the potential of Internet technologies to provide remote help for those with unmet health needs.

Wireless Healthcare story Online Communities May Provide Support For Suicidal Teenagers covers work by
Elaine Greidanus a University of Alberta researcher. Her small study of an online help site, for suicidal adolescents. She found the participants emphasised the importance of expressing their thoughts and feelings to a community who understood, and that they got this from the online community created and received social support they would not otherwise have. She believes this proves the online community to be a meaningful peer-based support system.

A little further information is available from the University of Alberta news site, but I've not yet seen this in any peer reviewed journal, however I feel it does balance the negative story above by showing that Internet technologies can provide positive support to healthcare practices.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I received an email the other day asking me to look at a Beta test of Wiser Wiki.

WiserWiki has been produced as a free service by Elsevier and aims to allow accredited physicians to comment, collaborate and update medical information online and is viewable by everyone. The site was originally seeded with content from John Noble’s “Textbook of Primary Care Medicine” (3rd Edition).

Having been a long term user, and contributor, to Wikipedia over the last 3+ years and having played with various other wiki software and applications, I was interested to take a look.

I wonder whether this approach by a major established publisher of books illustrates a trend we will see growing in future years - is this the way in which 2nd and 3rd editions of books will be developed with collaboration and contribution from experts in a subject around the world?

I can understanding limiting editing rights to those with appropriate qualifications, but was surprised that the facility to use inline citations within the text, now increasingly required on wikipedia, has not been used in this application to validate the sources of the information provided.

I also wonder.....
* whether the publishers are hoping to get contributions from authors for free through this medium?
* whether the public and patients will value this information more highly than that on other web sites?
* what this approach means for the financial, copyright and intellectual property rights rules of the publishing houses?

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28 questions in the Data Sharing Review

In October 2007 the UKs Prime Minister has asked Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, to conduct a review of the framework for the use of information in the private and public sector.

There have just published, on the Justice Ministry web site the 28 questions they wish to gain public and expert views on.

The terms of reference are to:
* consider whether there should be any changes to the way the Data Protection Act 1998 operates in the UK and the options for implementing any such changes
* provide recommendations on the powers and sanctions available to the regulator and courts in the legislation governing data sharing and data protection
* provide recommendations on how data-sharing policy should be developed in a way that ensures proper transparency, scrutiny and accountability

I think this is an important area for public debate and development and shouldn't just be a knee jerk reaction to recent high profile data losses. I would encourage everyone with an interest to participate.

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