Computers have become an integral part of modern life with many now having more computing power in their mobile phones than that available to NASA engineers for the moon landings in the 1960s. On a daily basis the media report the wonders of the digital Universe and its potential for improving out standard of living.
Visit many hospitals in the UK and you enter a world seemingly untouched by these advances. Computers are visible in wards and clinics but the day-to-day work of clinical care reveals an NHS reliant on pen and paper. Why should this be the case given the billions that have poured into the development of electronic records for patients and the consensus that information is essential for 21st century health care? How are we to prepare to meet the promise of post genomic medicine?
In this lecture I will describe some of the barriers to delivering the promises of an electronic revolution in health care. I will offer some explanations why health care informatics can seem to be the bottomless pit that fails to deliver
With reference to the development of an electronic record for eye care I will also describe new ways of working using Open Source software tools that have powered the web. Open Source software has become a major force in developing many of the programs that we take for granted. I t has become a rapidly growing force in the management of large sets of data yet the NHS seems committed to working with proprietary and expensive solutions whose owners seem driven more by profit than by the need to improve patient outcomes.
We urgently need a new generation of computer savvy healthcare workers who can connect developments in software with those in healthcare. The days of the pen are numbered but the digital underpinning of 21st health care needs those who are as comfortable with lines of code as they are with lines in the clinic.
A lecture by Professor James Morgan as part of Cardiff Universities 'Science in Health' public lecture series.