I organised what I think was the first national GP computing exhibition in 1981 for the GP Computer Suppliers Association (now part of Intellect) it was a sell out and I have been trying to organise another sell out event without success ever since. However, with the BCS Primary Health Info Conference I am helping to organise at present I think I might have finally achieved my ambition www.primaryhealthinfo.org
This is particularly satisfying as it was the PHCSG that picked up the original GPCSA exhibition and merged it with their conference to create a series of conferences over the past 30 years of which Primary Health Info is the most recent incarnation.
PHCSG conferences have a history of responding to the current zeitgeist in primary care IT and this year’s event looks like it will do it again this time around GP Consortia.
It is wildly recognised that better use of information and information and communications technology is going to be central if we are to rise to the challenges facing the NHS (and indeed health care systems across the developed world). In particular making the Governments plans, centred around GP Consortia, work against the background of austerity and deficit reduction is going to require the innovative use of information and IT without the luxury of being able to invest more than a modest amount in new infrastructure and systems.
The process is a bit like this.
Coming to Primary Health Info is sadly not going to answer all of your questions but it will enable you to answer many of them and help you understand that for many others nobody knows the answers and indeed that we haven’t even worked out what all the questions should be yet.
However, Primary Care Info looks like being the place where we might make progress. We have speakers, exhibitors and delegates who are working on the issues now, both in the ivory towers of Government and Informatics, but also at the grass roots with the PBI in general practice. Some of these know some answers, some think they do, while others don’t have a clue and may or may not be honest enough to admit it. There are going to be lots of opportunities to ask questions and network and greater apparent clarity may emerge in the conference bar (although experience tells me that we may not remember of brilliant late night insights in the morning).
We are also trying an experiment and running a technical steam alongside the main conference stream. This stream has speakers who are experts in the important but arcane aspects of health informatics SNOMED, HL7, CDA, XDS, FAD, PETs. This stream is intended to attract a different set of delegates mainly from the vendor community who have to know not just what these abbreviations stand for (a beer on me at the conference for the first 10 people to email me with the correct meaning of all of the above) but how to make them work in practice. We are doing this partly to attract more delegates but also to encourage a dialogue between the techies, the policy people and frontline NHS people as we believe it is only by each of these groups understanding a bit more of the others worlds that we are going to crack the challenges we face. We hope to do these through the plenary sessions, which run across both streams, by building contacts through informal networking an by encouraging delegates to wander in to the odd session in the stream other than that which would be there natural home.
Hopefully by the end of the event we will all know a bit more, have a clearer idea of those things that still need to be resolved, made some new relationships to help us work together and probably most importantly help to influence the agenda with the powers that be.
We have a number of half-price places for those who work in the NHS and NHS GP practices, but these are going fast, so book now www.primaryhealthinfo.org
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the event and would encourage you to tell your colleagues to come to, but secure your own place first.