Going Web 2.0 with the NHS

Reading this on the ongoing farce that is the government procured NHS computer programme, it occurred to me that they really should have created a web-based suite of applications. No, really. Had they done so, they’d’ve immediately cut their budget from £12.7bn to maybe a tenth of that. They could have used existing PCs and networks, and ensured they were not locked in to proprietory technologies. Ok, so there’d be applications which would require more raw processing power than could be delivered by the network, but as long as the results could be broken down into manageable, readable files, then where’s the difficulty?

And accessing patient records would be a (very secure) breeze. It would work like this: everyone gets a personal website from the day they were born, where all their details are stored, and they’re the only people who can log on and see everything (once they’d reached their majority of course). There would be some things that the person can edit, like their address, personal preferences and relationships, and others that the professionals involved could edit, either with the consent of the individual, or in the case of, say a diagnosis or prescription, without it. Pages would only be viewable with the patient’s consent, and would be protected by the highest level of encryption available at that time.

Then of course all of the data would be held centrally, and be accessible to the patient anywhere in the world where there’s a PC with a browser capable of the required level of encryption. Imagine that, go to Turkey and find that if you get blood poisoning the medics there would be able to view your records and see what medication you are currently on. Big plus. You could granularise the access too: maybe we’d have publically available medical profiles for emergencies — which the patient could choose what to display.

So of course there are security issues, with huge levels of complexity about who can access what, and how access codes are securely distributed, but frankly if we wanted to future-proof the thing, well, shoving it in to a vast online database would do the trick. Maybe it wouldn’t be absolutely secure, but what government facility has ever been secure? I know that is not really an argument, but I am sure present levels of encryption would be good enough.

But then you take it further, perhaps each person should have a webpage which includes their education record, their criminal record, their income tax … everything. How would that be? A recipe for disaster or a way in which each individual can keep track of their affairs, and maybe have more control over them — imagine for example having a live readout on your credit rating by logging onto your personal webpage.

I come back to the original idea tho’ — they should have used the net, surely?

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3 Responses to “Going Web 2.0 with the NHS”

  1. rooster Says:

    i tend to diagree: this system makes it too easy for one to be denied one’s identity and private records stolen, etc. the margin of errors that already exist in the hospital system are horrendous at best–imagine if typos/file mixups/mis-diagnosis/tampering were to happen within the program you suggest…and how long/how much money it would possibly take to have your records fixed.

    not all doctors are thorough now-a-days…not all doctors are honest… i think your idea needs a little more thought, especially on the angle of people who do not have enough money/time to wade their way through an unfair system.

  2. rooster Says:

    well it mangled my full comment, but i think you get the general idea i was trying to convey.

  3. Arbu Says:

    The point is I think, that the patient and the practitioner can see the records as they are used and updated. In other words, errors would be noticed and corrected immediately. For example, GP and patient are discussing allergies, and the patient notices that the doctor mistakenly puts an allergy to penicillin down. He or she can immediately correct the doctor’s mistake by pointing it out. No cost, more accurate records, and more transparency: none of which we have now 😉

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