Digital Health Age’s Ian Bolland spoke to John Rayner, the regional director of HIMSS Analytics (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) for Europe and Latin America, about the use of technology in healthcare.
The regional director of HIMSS Analytics has warned that the UK is ‘years behind’ other countries when it comes to using client facing technology in healthcare.
John Rayner, the regional director for Europe and Latin America for the company that advises and supports hospitals on their digital transformation, measuring them against their own international standards explained there are certain ways the health service uses technology well but has some work to do regarding personal health records.
But there was a positive feeling in the way the health service has used technology to be used by healthcare professionals when it comes to combatting diseases and treating patients.
He said: “The client facing technology, the web technologies, the ability to create electronic records that have alerts, things of that nature – we’ve got a fair bit of catching up to do.
“If, however, we think about clinical technologies some of the improvements in surgical technique, in cancer care, in scanning, there are some enormous benefits to use in technology and I think by and large the health service is very good at developing these cutting-edge technologies for professionals to use.”
At the recent HIMSS event in London, personal health records and the outcome of the report from the secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock – The Future of Healthcare: Our Vision for Digital, Data and Technology in Health – was discussed.
The Department of Health and Social Care published a plan in October on how the health service can use new digital technology, how data can be used and how the facilities can be of a high standard. Mr Rayner explained those who attended the HIMSS Executive Leadership summit were positive about the health secretary’s ideas, in particular surrounding interoperability and standards.
“I’m not quite sure we’re there yet but what Mr Hancock is saying is that we’ve got to use procurements processes and specifications to define interoperability and we won’t be buying any more systems that don’t have open APIs, that aren’t on open platforms that don’t connect to anything. Then we had a load of examples about apps and silos of information that still don’t allow this type of thing to be shared so I think there was all that good stuff.
“People found it really helpful that he said these things but then, of course, there’s the reality check of; is there a plan to actually do this and is there any money? At the moment they are two unknowns and we know that both of those things are significant enablers.”
Regarding personal health records, Mr Rayner suggested it could be down to those who have a good reason to use them, are using them, even though not everyone has access to them.
“An interesting test is that one of the speakers asked the people in the audience, and there was probably 100 or so people, the speaker asked the audience how many people had access to their records and how many people actually, routinely, accessed the records. I think there was about 30% of people in the audience who thought they had access to records and about 10% actually said that they had accessed their record for one reason or another.
“If I was going to go and see my GP this afternoon because I got headaches there’s nothing in my record that would improve, enhance, or increase the quality of that conversation.
“If, on the other hand, I was a Type 1 diabetic, having regular foot checks, eye checks, my blood sugars were a little bit unstable, I was a brittle diabetic, I was able to record my uranalysis in my record, include my blood tests and all that stuff then prior to that visit access to the record would add enormous value because I could give the GP access to the record during the consultation, and we could both look at the clinical parameters that I had recorded myself over the previous two months.
“I think what I am saying is that patient access can sometimes be a solution looking for a problem. Whilst for some it provides real-life benefits, many people don’t actually require access as a solution, because it doesn’t bring any additional value or benefit.”