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Physio becomes information technology trailblazer

A physiotherapist who is helping to overhaul the information technology (IT) that is available to NHS staff took centre stage at a high-profile conference.

Kim Ashall, director of service transformation and IT at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, told delegates attending the 8 March launch of a 'leaders network' for chief clinical information officers (CCIOs) how she and other IT specialists were improving patient care.

As the only physio among the seven CCIOs to have been appointed in England to date, Ms Ashall's remit is to ensure that staff in Rotherham's hospital and community services can access the correct information when they are making clinical decisions. They will then be able to record this information in 'real time', with as little duplication as possible, she said.

The inspiration for the creation of the CCIO posts comes from the US, where the role was pioneered as part of a bid to engage clinicians in IT.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley told the launch that an 'information revolution' was altering how people communicated with each other in ordinary life, but that the NHS was lagging behind. This was changing, with smartphone apps that track patients' blood pressure or help to manage long-term conditions such as diabetes being developed.

Such examples, he said, fuelled his determination to 'shift power decisively from the centre to the frontline NHS' and place 'clinicians in the driving seat'. With English trusts in the north, Midlands and east being given the 'freedom to choose which systems they use', savings of #1bn on existing IT contracts were in the offing.

'Trusting those closest to the frontline to make decisions they know not in theory, but in practice, will make their job easier and services better for patients.'

The 'mammoth and remote' National Programme for IT in the NHS had been discarded because it failed to meet users' needs, Mr Lansley said. But whereas IT had once been seen as 'the enemy', it would be 'flexible and agile' in the future, he added.

A profile of Kim Ashall also appears in this issue.

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Article Information

Author(s)

Ian A McMillan

Issue date

21 March 2012

Volume number

18

Issue number

6

Tagged as

IT
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