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Views & Reviews Laying Foundations

Jet packs

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 10 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8342

Re: Jet packs

Having worked in the past 10 years as a locum consultant in over 30 different maternity units I totally agree that existing electronic healthcare systems throughout Britain far too often “look as if they’ve been created by people who have never actually set foot in a hospital”

Without any question I also agree that “there needs to be an effort, led by doctors, to create better systems.” Unfortunately virtually all NHS funding remains controlled by those who too often prioritise using computers for data collection for retrospective audit and management, budget holders who still seem to believe that computers are magic, and senior staff who have rarely had any personal experience of the cost and limitations of writing complex software code .

Despite much political rhetoric, using computers to help front-line clinicians avoid human errors, or to reduce their overwhelming form filling workload sadly remains a low priority.

Over the past 30 years I have tried at every level to overcome this chasm between the world of ‘individual care’ clinical medicine and the world of NHS ICT but with little success. In the end the only way to demonstrate the kind of open access design knowledge that the medical profession needs to provide was, on an unfunded voluntary basis, to create my own websites. At least googling “perinatal data” now usually puts first out of many millions of hits, being virtually the only link concerned with the time and cost of data entry for better individual care rather that using the data entry work of others purely for retrospective analysis. A related more general initiative by clinicians for clinicians can be seen at and there now seems reasonable hope that WikiProject Medicine initiative will in time make these and similar websites more widely accessible.

In a few hospitals also there is a reluctant and slow realisation that, as has already been accepted in America, significant progress will crucially depend on developing the role of Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) as a viable long term specialist career path.

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 December 2012
Rupert Fawdry
Electronic Encyclopaedia of Perinatal Data
31, St.Mary's