Saturday, December 13, 2008

Medinfo2010 submission dates

Cape Town, South Africa will host the 13th International Congress on Medical Informatics from the 13 - 16 of September 2010.

The medinfo2010 website has been relaunched with information on submission deadlines, etc. - in particular, please note:

Abstracts Deadlines

Deadline for early submissions, for those who wish to participate in Scientific Mentor Scheme:
01 July 2009

Feedback from mentors for Scientific Mentor participants:
01 August 2009

Deadline for paper submissions:
30 September 2009

See for current information (note some areas will be updated in coming weeks and months)

The Scientific Mentor scheme is one of several new initiatives - the aim is to provide additional support to early career researchers and non-native English speakers. Participants can submit their papers early and will be provided with feedback about their papers from a member of the panel of international health informatics experts. Those wishing to participate in this scheme must submit their paper by 1st July 2009. Authors will then need to submit their final paper by the Congress paper deadline of 30th September 2009. The papers will then proceed through the normal Congress review process.

Consider submitting to and attending medinfo2010 and help to make the first African medinfo a success.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Good government information management in the internet age

Over the years I have been known to criticise government departments for their information management processes, but today I have been surprised by the efficient way the National Audit Office is handling the reorganisation of information on its web site.

In 2006 I posted some comments on the NAO's report into The National Programme for IT in the NHS. Since then we have all moved on & I had forgotten about it.

Today I received a very helpful email explaining that The National Audit Office’s (NAO’s) website had been relaunched today, and that links on my web site/blog to the NAO pages would be broken. Unfortunately there is no direct correlation between old URLS and new URLs.

A member of staff had carried out searches of my website (I'd like to know the software that did it & generated the email) and provided new links to replace the existing ones. The email detailed which pages on my site were affected and gave clear details of the old (broken) link and provided the appropriate new link.

Well done to staff of the National Audit Office for appropriate management of information in the Internet age.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Health Informatics Short Course

Readers of this blog might be interested in a study day in London on 4 March 2009 which will look at Understanding and Lowering Hospital Average Length of Stay. For more information see

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Flu tracking project

You have probably heard of the Google Flu Trends project (, which aims to track flu epidemics in the USA by analysing search engine queries. (BTW, I wonder how accurately it would work, if at all, in the UK, for localising data, as my broadband Internet connection seems to bounce around most of northern England)

Our colleague Chris Paton reports on a similar project (in terms of the health issue addressed) called the Influenza Tracking Project. This aims to decrease the time lag in data/symptom reporting (similar to Google Flu Trends) and so potentially result in a more rapid preventative response to flu outbreaks. The project would do this by using social networks to facilitate the distribution of an online influenza questionnaire, and is based in earlier European work using questionnaires.

More information is on the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI - New Zealand) website (>>>) , which also gives contact details for Chen Luo, the medical student working on the project.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Patients Turn to Social Networking Sites To Find Disease Treatments

I could think of some nightmares with this?

Patients Turn to Social Networking Sites To Find Disease Treatments
Patients are using social networking Web sites to share their experiences with certain diseases and learn about potential treatments. One Web site, called PatientsLikeMe, aims to speed the pace of research by sharing patients' medical records. CBS' "Evening News

Global informatics training funding

Neil Versel has reported on his Healthcare IT Blog that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing a $1.2 million grant to promote health informatics and biomedical education and training worldwide, particularly in developing countries.

Although I can't find any reference to this on the AMIA, IMIA or Foundation web site, Neil reports that "AMIA will use the Gates Foundation money to develop "scaleable" approaches to e-health education, including a replicable blueprint for training informatics leaders, including physicians, medical records professionals, computer scientists and medical librarians". He suggests that "confirmed or likely participating organizations include the European Federation for Medical Informatics, the Asia Pacific Organization for Medical Informatics and the Health Informatics Society of Australia".

If this is true it could potentially enhance health informatics education by encouraging the development and sharing of educational resources. A possible downside may be that the money could be spent in the US to create learning objects and opportunities which might not end up being suitable for "low-cost healthcare in the less-developed economies".

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Latest issue of UK Health Informatics Today

The latest issue of UK Health Informatics Today (UKHIT no 57, Autumn 2008) was published yesterday.

It is a special themed issue which examines a variety of eHealth solutions which facilitate new forms of communication between clinicians and between clinicians and patients. The overall message in the varied and optimistic papers is that text messaging, PDAs, ubiquitous medical devices and Web 2.0 applications will allows patients and professionals to "do the previously impossible".

The contents include:

* Putting ICT into STI Management
* EpiSurveyor: An Open Source Revolution in Data Collection
* Using Ajax for Cleaner Software
* Text Messaging for Health Promotion Among Adolescents
* Designing for the Hospital Environment: Focusing on the Context
* Exploring the Role of Metadata in Health Information Applications
* Application of Mobile Computers and Wireless Technologies in Clinical Dentistry

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The use of social networking (Web 2.0) in higher education

Peter Murray has point out to me an interesting report from Franklin Consulting entitled A review of current and developing international practice in the use of social networking (Web 2.0) in higher education which has recently been published.

The report was commissioned by the Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience who asked for an international perspective on Web 2.0 tools and their use in universities around the world. The results which cover Australia, The Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America) highlights the drivers and inhibitors to use and draws some conclusions about the likely direction.

Their findings reflect patchy uptake and a wide variety of ways in which these tools are being used, but suggest "The potential transformation of the practices themselves is yet barely understood or encountered".

There was a remarkably high level of agreement about the issues to be addressed which included:

Social and professional lives: The use of Web 2.0 for both social and professional purposes has created uncertainties for HEIs. This is reflected in institutions’ current regulatory behaviour codes for use of Web 2.0 for both staff and students.
Privacy and safety: Issues of privacy and safety have been raised within the international reports as matters of concern for students and institutions.
Identity: One of the key issues that both students and institutions will face is the nature of students' and staff online identities.
Issues for Institutions: Traditional frameworks for the development of academic knowledge do not sit comfortably with the speed of information sharing and information production that exists via the Internet.
A lack of new pedagogic models creating uncertainty for both staff and students.
Time constraints; administrative overload, high maintenance of the learning process
and learning the new technologies are all time consuming.
A culture shift for academics: The rapid and huge expansion of information accessible through the web coupled with tools that can be used to repurpose and create new knowledge on-line have created a very different information and a communication environment
Issues for students :Issues for students are common across all countries where they are engaged in using Web 2.0 tools.

The perceived advantages for co-creation of knowledge and the support for
on-line collaborative activities are balanced against concerns over the
longevity of software applications and reduced institutional control as learning space becomes atomised.

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Security & web based electronic medical records

Houston Neal has posted an interesting discussion on The Software Advice Blog entitled The Double Standard for Web-Based EMRs . In it he questions why doctors would be happy for all their banking to occur over the Internet, but are unhappy to use similar technologies for their patients records.

He makes some good points and provides an interesting checklist of questions to ask software suppliers, but I feel he doesn't fully address the key point which is that many people would be much more worried about aspects of their health history (classically mental health, gynaecology or sexual health) being in the public domain than their financial details.

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Latest edition of HI Now

The latest edition of Health Informatics Now is now available online

It includes:

* Industry news
* HC2009 gears up to present a new style showcase
* Collaboration helps enhance unscheduled care services
* BCS supports professionalism via various activities
* Forthcoming events

Member and Specialist Groups

* Conferences of recent past and future
* Apply now to enter for Dame Phyllis Friend Award
* The good, the bad and the ugly of Choose and Book
* Workforce survey finds pay is still an issue
* Group moves from telehealth to web 2.0

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Web 2.0 for Health & Social Care - Northern Ireland Seminars

Today I am in Belfast to give a couple of seminars on Social Networking tools & Web 2.0 applications for the Northern Ireland Health and Personal Social Services.

The first breakfast seminar, at the Beeches Management Centre, went well, with about 15 people attending including health promotion staff, managers and board members along with colleagues from the university.

The presentation talked about the growth of blogs (including this one), social networking sites, wikis such as wikipedia etc and tried to raise questions about the motivations people have for using them (rather than specific technologies). Some of the potential benefits for health and social care staff, patients, clients and the general population were highlighted along with some of perils with examples ranging from NHS Exposed to wikileaks demonstrated. Interestingly one of the blogs I was going to show, Dr Rant, was blocked by the local firewall as "tasteless" which beutifully illustrated some of the points I was making about access v censorship issues. I then went on to talk about some implications of these technologies for health and Social Care and concluded with a few issues which the participants might want to consider further.

As I expected, some of my comments may have challenged the controlling, hierarchical culture of the organisation, but from the questions and comments which came up I think may have may some of the participants to think both about the potential benefits as well as the perils of using some of the tools.

I'm repeating the seminar at lunchtime at a different venue which is being webcast to three other centres and it will be interesting to see how it goes down then (I will try to keep it a bit shorter as I overran my allotted time the first time around).

The second presentation at Ulster Hospital was attended by less people but video conferenced to two other sites.

The session was captured on video and will be made available at a later date but no-one seems quite sure where yet - because of issues with firewalls blocking video streaming. The PowerPoint presentation is now available via slide share. & available below:

Web2 0 Persentation Rod Ward
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: web 2.0)

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