Q & A: Using the Internet and mobile technologies

Q & A: Using the Internet and mobile technologies

Professor of Health Informatics at the University College London, David Ingram, has devoted his career to developing information management strategies for the health sector.

Director and founder of the Centre for Health Informatics and Multiprofessional Information (CHIME), he will deliver the first plenary address at HIC 99, on learning to manage health information.

Q:Have there been any significant moves in the use of IM in the health sector during the past year?

A:A strategy launched in the UK, entitled Information for Health, will set targets for introduction of specific levels of electronic healthcare records over the next six years.

The new Fifth Framework Research programme within Europe has also been launched, with an emphasis on services for citizens.

Q:What are the important issues of IM in healthcare as you see them?

A:There are many, but especially important is the need to align methods for ensuring quality of health care delivery with development of coherent, secure and cost-effective information systems. Another is to coordinate healthcare delivery with new opportunities to deal directly with and support patients and carers at home, via mobile technologies and the Internet.

Where several professionals work together to provide care for a single patient, at different times and locations, it is vital that they work cohesively. Information systems have an important role in enabling this to happen.

But, underlying these there must be consensus and coherence, clinically and technically, in how that care is delivered and coordinated, especially for the patients and carers themselves.

Q:Does it help to conceptualise the health institution as a business like any other whose resources need to be managed?

A:Healthcare can, surely, only benefit from having the huge resorces it deploys well-managed, using the best methods and expertise available.

This will help to ensure that the maximum resource possible is devoted to services of the highest possible quality. That is not to say that healthcare is only or even mainly a business like any other.

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