I really like I.T – Information Technology, after all I've been using it since I was around eight years old. However, in those thirty years of using computers I'm also fully aware of some of the problems that I.T can make manifest.
Especially when you bring in the cheapest contractors, don't supervise them properly, don't consult properly with the people to be using the system and then start cutting budgets halfway through the project.
*cough* NHS *cough*
I mean, if you can't get contractors who are skilled enough to stick linoleum to the floor, how can you trust your commissioning people to find someone good enough to do invisible and arcane things with computers.
Therefore you end up doing daft things like sending letters with confidential information to the wrong people – as, despite what the 'Connecting for Health' person says, without serious thinking I can imagine two ways of a member of the public getting confidential and potentially damaging information because of these letters.
(And notice how the CoH speaks as faceless unit – the spokesperson doesn't have a name in that article)
Actually this is perhaps why we stick with outdated software – official web browser of the NHS? Internet Explorer 6.
But I'm no Luddite – when a system works well, it works well.
Take my mum – she's currently under the care of a consultant and the consultant is juggling her medication for her. Slowly increasing the medication while looking for improvement or side effects.
Does my mum need an appointment to do this? No. The Consultant has an email address that we can send updates to, and the Consultant can suggest dose changes.
It works really well.
The problem only occurred when my mum went to the GP surgery (that has been there for some years) in order to get a refill of the prescription.
My phone rang that morning…
'Hello, it's the GP surgery, you mum has come in asking for more pills but we have no record of this – but she has told us about the emails from the consultant – can you fax the email to us please'.
Well, I haven't owned a fax machine for quite some time.
'Could I not forward the email to you? I have it on the machine I'm sitting in front of right now'.
'Sorry, no – our email isn't working yet'.
So I had to print it out and drive down to my mum's place (only five minutes and I did get a cup of tea for my trouble) with a printed out email in my hand. All because their email wasn't working yet.
So, you can see how it works – someone embracing technology as an option (I know that email isn't hugely secure, but the important thing is that we had a choice about whether to use it or not), while another part of the NHS can't get it's email working.
Situation normal then – the luck of the draw.