ATTDigital’s weekly read-round-up #2

Roman Numerals Chart

Having spotted a CNN piece on the Super bowl which included the roman numerals XLVI I wondered what it stands for, this website helpfully told me: Roman numerals decoded.

When will the NHS start using email to contact patients?

Dick Vinegar, the Patient from Hell, deplores that little or nothing has happened over the last three years to make the NHS less of an email-free zone.

This article got LOADS* of comments. Too many to go over them all so do go and have a look.

In the meantime can anyone tell me whether email secure? Is a closed secure network the only way to go?

Another query I have is can email to clinical staff work in isolated local areas (like those told of in the article) or does there need to be a national standard in place?

Finally, how much damage has the utter failure (only in a pr sense, if not totally) of the National Programme for IT done to the future of NHS IT use including emails, telecare and online engagement & consultation tools? I fear quite a lot.

*LOADS = 98 at last look

Report highlights benefits of genomic innovation

I love a bit (a lot) of science in my life. I listen to Radio 4 science podcasts every week as I commute into work and one area which has always interested and excited me is genomics, that’s the study and application of knowledge about the whole genome of an organism. The power this relatively new field is giving us in understanding and fighting disease is immense.

What worries me often is that advances in the lab aren’t being taken advantage of at the bedside or within primary care. Genomics can help us tell which drug and at what dose patients will respond to best and help in clinical decision making when treating major diseases such as cancer. While costs of such tests are decreasing I get the feeling clinicians knowledge of their existence and potential use isn’t increasing (I have no evidence of this).

That is why I spent my Thursday evening reading the DH commissioned report into the use of genomics in the NHS. Placing the responsibility of nurturing this field for the NHS at the National Commissioning Boards door the 83 pages set out how the NHS can take best advantage of this nascent field and help the UK economy at the same time.

My highlights from the report are:

  1. The clear steer that collaboration between multiple organisations from the public and private sector and not an overbearing behemoth is what is needed to make the most of advances.
  2. An acute understanding that clinical training in genomics is absolutely key, not only for tomorrow’s experts but across the board so overall knowledge increases. After all patients can get a lot of their understanding from healthcare staff.
  3. The multiple and repetitious statement that the public must be brought with the health and bioscience sectors in understanding and taking up these technologies – see Chapter 9 of the report.

You can read the DH release and the full report here: http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/01/genomics/. And if you want to find out how genomics and personalised medicine could begin to change your world I’d recommend reading Francis Collins’ book: The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine. An easy read with plenty of real life characters, pictures and a great glossary to guide you through the science and wonder!

Web economy in G20 set to double by 2016, Google says

This report by Boston Consulting Group and commissioned by Google looked at how far and fast the growth of the internet may go in the coming years. It puts a figure of £1.5tn on the current web economy and predicts a rapid rise in mobile internet access will see this grow to £2.7tn.

As the report states it is difficult to measure the web economy but I welcome any attempt to put a financial figure on all this ‘soft’ social media stuff, even if at present that is a weak casual link between a growth in use of social media and a growth in the web economy.

Interestingly within the BBC article there is also this snippet:

“Technology giant IBM estimates that by 2015, one trillion devices will be internet-connected”

That is pretty amazing! An interconnected web of things all talking to each other, monitoring themselves and auto adjusting. Imagine heating systems checking the weather and setting the temperature for your home based on the best balance between economic, comfort and green factors, your phone being a hub from which you can control your TV and cooker and check on the status of your front door lock. No more running home to check you turned the iron off or closed the windows!

The article also eludes to the growing internet ecosystems like Facebook and Amazon. Perhaps one day we’ll have an NHS internet ecosystem in which you can sort appointments, see your medical records and compare services. Maybe.

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