Thursday, February 14, 2008

I've got shit under my tech-rim

It seems that Dr Rant doesn't like the exciting new NHS computer systems.
Being an NHS GP, Dr Rant has access to one of the most highly developed IT systems in the world. If you think a Sinclair ZX81 is 'one of the most highly developed IT sytems in the world'. Or, in other words, Dr Rant has access to the kind of technology that a 1982 teenager would have considered obsolete.

Having decided to spend somewhere in the region of £20 billion on an NHS IT system (the brainchild of that well known technovirgin, Tony Blair) Dr Rant now have access to an email system that is marginally better than the stone-age NHS email system it replaced.

Yes, for 'security' the NHS has shut out most systems that normal IT people would take for granted (Skype, VPN, browser-independent websites and so on). I have to use Internet Explorer and email for some key NHS stuff to work at all.

There really is no good reason why such systems should be browser-specific. After all, the Scottish system cost a fraction of that amount and is, quite sensibly, server-based and thus accessible through standard web-browers.
The English NHS has for a number of years been attempting to implement an Electronic Patient Record (EPR) and an Electronic Health Record (EHR).

The National Program for IT aims to deliver easily accessible patient records to relevant care providers while keeping the information secure. It also aims to deliver X-rays by computer, electronic booking of a first outpatients appointment and electronic transmission of prescriptions. (NAO report 16th of June 2006)

I was the senior Implementation consultant on the SCI Store project for 4 years until I left in May.

The only reason that the English system is so massively expensive and hugely shit is because the government have got into bed with Microsoft. And now Microsoft is snuggling a little closer, and has pushed the government away so that its back is turned and Microsoft has just eased the tip of its great, big, unlubricated cock into the government's arsehole.

As Mike Rouse points out on our new techie-type blog, this is bad for many reasons.
The BBC News website reports that Sharon Hodgson wants every MP to be gvien a free BlackBerry and has slated the alternatively available PDAs as "not in the same league". Well, the political arguments about what an MP already gets aside, there is an issue here to do with systems management and procurement.

It seems that the Government and the Commons has gotten so far into bed with Microsoft that they simply could not support BlackBerry devices anway. The Commons Commission, which oversees things like this, has invested "a good deal of time and money" on Microsoft-based handheld services over the past few years. It would seem that calls for more open source technologies within the public sector have been unheard. Well, with a sales reps from Microsoft being given amazing access to the public sector it’s not surprising that public money goes a certain way.

The inability for MPs to choose the technology they need to get their jobs done is a poor example of open systems management. There should never, ever be dependability on one provider, particularly when you’re dealing with such vast public data and finances.

Quite. And as for supplying MPs with Blackberries? Well, my response is the same as Unity's.
On the money you’re on as an MP, you can buy your own fucking phone, thank you very much.

So, Dr Rant's final question is this:
Exactly how much wank can you buy for £20 billion? And how much storage space does it take up?

Well, you can buy 646 MPs, and it takes up approximately two homes for each of them, plus about £110,000 in additional expenses. Is there nothing that our government can handle?

Hang them, hang them all but, in the name of all that's unholy, don't let the government handle the procedures: the scaffold would cost £84,000,000,000 and collapse at the crucial moment. Best that we hire some Polish carpenters, I think...


Ryan said...

Its pretty disturbing the thing it is a web application in the first place. Ties into the tech trend from 2000 or so for specifying web applications for internal apps because of some bullshit that did the rounds about deployment of native application being harder than building pyramids.

Sounds like they even ballsed that up too by tying it to a point version of IE, and I'd put money on activex in the mix too.

Doing any kind of serious interactive UI with dhtml is far harder than doing it with a native UI platform. Even with lovely new platforms like extjs and dom query stuff like jquery it's hard to match the capabilities of a native UI, and it certainly takes a hell of a lot longer to write.

I also wonder if it meets the goverment own accesibility standards - very very diffiicult with dynamic web UI.

John Trenchard said...

while the government over here fucks around with Microsoft's crap and pisses money away, over in France, the gendarmerie are migrating to Linux

70,000 desktops to switch , two years after they moved over to the Firefox browser.
and three years after they dumped MS Office for OpenOffice.

John Trenchard said...

"Sounds like they even ballsed that up too by tying it to a point version of IE, and I'd put money on activex in the mix too.

sounds like it. and its an fucking ENORMOUS security hole.

Dr Rant said...

Unfortunately the Scots have it not a lot better.

One of my IT-savvy colleagues in Scotland has been fighting for some time over the fact that the server-based systems (such as the SCI results reporting system) do not work with anything other than Internet Explorer.

Try Firefox (or heaven forbid, Safari) and you won't get far.

He has even gone so far as to threaten them under the Disability Discrimination Act for their deliberate policy of Microsoft Only but to no avail.


Anonymous said...

How pathetic.
Here in Spain visit local clinic see Doctor show number. Dr taps keys monitor shows everything. Personal details, medical history, drugs history, appointments history, X-rays, ECG and blood test results.
Dr taps keys prints out appointment at local hospital.
At hospital same process. Surgeon prints out next appointment and prescription. On next visit records show when and where I went for the prescribed drugs.

No messing with an appointments desk or waiting for appointment details in the post. Brilliant.
Why can it be so much better than UK. In clinics and hospitals that are spotless with staff clothed head to foot in white. Except cleaners who are head to foot in blue. And caterers in green. With walls and floors covered in antibacterial coverings.
Spaniards have no doubt their country is the best in the world. I won't argue. What is wrong with the UK?

Mark said...

There are three things those of us on the front-line would like:

1. Electronic prescribing. Makes it safer, avoids many medication errors.

2. Getting results of investigations (such as blood tests and radiology) and not having them "lost" when faced with the patient in front of you in clinic. Very useful to see investigations from other hospitals too.

3. Electronic correspondence, so we can see letters and reports, and immediately transfer information from one clinician to another (or indeed, physiotherapy or other services).

We do not need a national database. We do not need a "structured record". Politicians like to suggest it would be great to see a list of allergies when faced with a patient in A&E, but to be honest, it is quicker to ask the patient, or to look at their alert bracelet. 50p is cheaper than £20 billion.

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