The PHCSG has several Special Interest Groups which are open to all members. If you are interested in any of these topics, please contact the Group Administrator, Judy Hayes, Tel +44 1886 833848
Chair: Dr John Williams
The Clinical Computing Special Interest Group (CLICSIG) of the Primary Health Care Specialist Group believes that medical informatics can and should serve to strengthen the traditional values of family practice.
It is a small group of practising GPs, practice nurses, practice managers and computer professionals who between them have a wide experience of many different facets of primary care computing. They are all 'computer literate', and share the view that IM&T should serve to help health care professionals to help patients and not the other way around. There is also a feeling of frustration that the profession's influential bodies are so slow to mount any concerted action to realise the potential benefits of IM&T.
A small group obviously cannot possible take on the whole field of medical informatics. It has to focus its energies on particular areas and persuade others to take a more active interest in the wider picture. CLICSIG was set up 'to look at the impact of computing on the care of patient and community, to seek practical ways to enable primary health care professionals to get maximum 'added value' from their systems, and to disseminate the best ideas regardless of system supplier to the widest possible audience
The St Albans meeting, held on 21st January 1995, was reported in the March edition of Informatics. Future meetings are scheduled for 12th/13th May (Durham), and 14th/15th July (Canterbury). Any member of the PHCSG may apply to attend - details from Judy Hayes, Group Administrator.
Chair: Dr Neill Jones
The European Special Interest Group is now entering its third year, and over that time has seen significant developments. The group has been fortunate in attracting funding from the Information Management Group of the NHS Executive. Recently Mike McCurry of the NHS Executive has taken the lead in supervising the activities of the European Special Interest Group. To this end we have now set up a supervisory board, consisting of Mike McCurry, Dr Neill Jones, Dr Nick Booth, Dr Ian Purves and Dr John Williams.
The scope of activity of the European Special Interest Group has been defined as 'information, communications and technology as applied to primary care that is external to the United Kingdom'. It has always been felt that there is a specific requirement to identify lessons that can be learned from international activities and also activities involving the development of standards that will have significant impact on the development of primary care computing in the United Kingdom. Recently we have recognised the growing importance of activity outside the European Community, and as such we have formally changed our parameters to look at the international scene, not just the European scene. To this end we are planning to change the name of the European Special Interest Group to reflect our involvement in primary care in its widest international setting. We hope to identify a suitable name and acronym by the next committee meeting of the Primary Health Care Specialist Group.
In order to facilitate the work of the international group we are creating an office which will be based in the Sowerby Unit, which is part of the Department of Primary Care of Newcastle University. The intention is to have part-time secretarial support which can be used by all members of the group involved in international activities. Some of the activities will be contacting international primary care projects, keeping a database of such projects and their current status, a contact list of individuals involved in primary care informatics, together with their areas of interest.
Currently there is no single repository of international medical informatics literature. It is hoped to create a library which will house significant papers on medical informatics, and the deliverables of projects where these are placed in the public domain.
Very early on in the development of the original European Special Interest Group, the need to communicate and share information became a high priority. To this end we have developed our skills in using the Internet for information retrieval and dissemination, and electronic communications. We now have, with the assistance of the Sowerby Unit, a resource at Newcastle University which allows us to post electronic messages to all who subscribe to a new service called GP-UK. This is an Internet list server allowing the dissemination of messages rapidly from one individual to many [see article on gp-uk in this issue on how to subscribe to this service].
In addition there is a repository of file information, and currently the development of HyperText pages pointing to medical and medical informatics resources in many sites around the world.
We are also in discussion with the developers of the NHS-Wide Network about the possibility of providing similar information to all who subscribe to the fledgling NWN.
One of the primary objectives of the original European Special Interest Group was to raise the profile of primary care in European funded projects. As a result a significant number of the bids to the next round of AIM 4th Framework involved members of the UK Primary Care medical informatics community.
There is still a significant amount of international activity that we do not as yet have access to and we are always seeking active new members who have either a specific area of interest or an activity they wish support for.
For the first time at HC95 we funded an international session looking at electronic data interchange standards and the use of computers for chronic disease management, together with a demonstration of the possibilities of the Internet to UK health care professionals.
Areas of activity to date:
We identified the 3rd framework AIM projects that had any relevance to primary care. These included the GEHR (Good European Health Record); ISSAC, a standard architecture for the clinical record; OPEADE, a project looking at prescribing; DILEMMA, a decision support project, and several other smaller projects. In addition we were involved in the primary care concerted action identifying some of the requirements from the primary care perspective of future AIM activity.
We managed to either actively become involved in these projects, had regular dialogue with the projects, or arranged for these projects to present their interim results to conferences organised by the Primary Health Care Specialist Group. Where necessary, individuals were funded to participate in this work if it involved travelling, either within the UK or Europe.
The only area of activity we undertook which was not internationally based has been the collation of projects in the United Kingdom looking at primary care and information technology or computing. This we believe is the first time that this activity has been performed and although the list is obviously incomplete, we at least have a significant single source of the majority of primary care informatics activity. This we hope to enhance over the future in conjunction with the similar activity we have performed for Europe. Whether we will be in a position to extend this internationally is as yet unknown.
Not all activity of individuals who have been involved in the European Special Interest Groups activity have required funding, and increasingly these individuals are becoming directly involved in European activity, which results in them being funded directly by these sources. Also none of the members of the European group have ever been funded completely for their activities and I would like to formally thank all of them for their input of time and personal expense.
One of the activities of the group that is more difficult to assess quantitatively has been attendance at international medical informatics meetings. Over the last few years we have funded individuals to attend the WONCA meeting in Amsterdam, the UK Nordic Learning in Medicine conferences in Denmark and Norway, the MIE in Lisbon, Portugal, the 3rd Framework Final Report conference in Lisbon, Portugal, the MIE conference in Geneva, two EMEDI conferences in Paris, the American Medical Informatics Association conference in Washington, SIMG conference in Estoril, Portugal, several smaller workshops, day conferences and preparatory meetings for conferences.
However there have been some activities that because of time constraints nobody has been able to attend, so if anybody has a particular European interest, and is prepared to become actively involved, please get in touch. One particular area I would like to see developed over the next few years is an increasing involvement in the development of standards, within Europe and more particularly internationally.
Chair: Dr Glyn Hayes
SLICSIG is concerned with all matters concerned with security and confidentiality of medical data held on primary care systems. It also considers these issues as they relate to communication systems of the integrated health service. It monitors parliamentary activities which may affect the legal position of such records. The SIG has produced general papers on these subjects and issues specific advice to primary care workers on individual topics.
Areas currently under consideration are:
Translating central NHS activities on security to the general practice environment.
Electronic medical records as evidence in a court of law of health service tribunal.
The detailed requirements of a secure audit trail.
The problems of secure verified backups.
Problems with mappings between various coding systems and their ability to damage data.
Confidentiality and security of remote access to clinical record systems.
The implications of using medical knowledge bases within computer systems and the liability for such systems.
The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, 1st November. If you are interested in attending this meeting, please contact the Group Administrator.
Convenor: Kate Johnson
During 1994/95 a two-day meeting was held at the Cheltenham Conference, on 24th-25th November 1994. 44 Advisers attended the meeting, which concentrated on the topics of computer data security, networks, fundholders' computer requirements, and the usual exchange of up-to-date industry information.
Most of the programme was well-received, though the balance could have been improved by reducing the time devoted to data security. It appears that there is an increasing demand from the Facilitators for meetings, and accordingly plans are under way to run a one-day meeting during June 1995, and a further two-day meeting at Cheltenham in November 1995. Anyone who wishes to contribute any ideas to the programme for these meetings should contact the Group Administrator.
Chair: Dr Bob Bowles
Chair: Stephen Kay