Why NHS hospitals don’t utilise modern telecommunication technologies. A response to Prof Jonathan Kay, CCIO, NHS Commissioning Board

Professor Jonathan Kay, CCIO for the NHS Commissioning Boards asks on this NHS Hackday Google Group thread:  why so few NHS hospitals utilise modern telecommunication technologies such as the mobile phone, SMS to improve communications within and between medical teams.

Below are my observations:-

  • Communication and care coordination within the hospital is not on the radar on most hospital’s IM&T strategy: PAS, PACS, Electronic Prescribing, Clinical Correspondence (incl. discharge summaries), Clinical Notation (incl. Bedside observations) are.
  • Internal referrals and internal communication is often a problem for junior doctors and nurses on the frontline, who often do not have a seat at the table when it comes to influencing organisational strategy. We are the silent and transitionary workforce (junior docs).
  • Revolutionising communication requires investment on new platforms such as smartphones and other mobiles devices and staff skilled to manage their deployment on a large scale. (I’m not referring to Blackberrys that are relatively simple).
  • Due to points above there aren’t many people selling solutions. Those that exist require both a hardware and software investment. And often, the hardware is tied to the software instead of treating the hardware as a platform, a general purpose computer, that enables all sorts of other possibilities. Examples of this includes things like Wardware, VitalPAC, and various handover software.

I’m waiting for a forward thinking organisation to tackle the issues of intra-hospital communication head-on to solve the bleep bleep (pagers), patient list and guidelines at point-of-care problem that have been discussed in great detail on the NHS Hackday Google Group and on a series of podcast that a few of us junior doctors record: http://thedigitaldoc.co.uk/podcasts

In conclusion, the people that decides how the money is spent is blind to the problem -> resources are not allocated -> No one  steps forward to offer solutions.