Can NHS IT impact on patient care? Unfortunately, there are a few examples where an IT “disaster” such as a network outage or a virus outbreak have adversely impacted patient care – cancelled appointments, closed theatres, sending some patients to neighbouring Trusts. These are not a great advert for IT. In my rose-tinted glasses world though, at least it shows that IT is being used in the running of the NHS.

What we really need are examples of IT positively affecting patient care. How about integration between care settings to speed up communication? Electronic referrals from GPs, then followed by electronic discharge summaries for example. Surely they are of benefit by speeding up communication; ensuring important information gets to the right person quickly has got to be good for patient care.

How about giving in-patients (and their visitors) access to the Internet through a guest wireless service? I can’t imagine my daughter being separated from Facebook/Twitter for more than 2 hours at home let alone if by herself in hospital. It’s amazing she sleeps at night now. Perhaps the fact that the wireless router is in our bedroom and we turn it off at night has got something to do with that.

How about home monitoring of blood pressure or blood levels? How about video-consultations? How about appointment booking online? How about recording mood levels on your smartphone, and sharing automatically with your Mental Health team, so they can proactively contact you under agreed circumstances?

There are many more example out there of IT positively impacting on patient care. Let’s work together to develop more and get them implemented!

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