Damien Mulley wrote a thought provoking post about Microsoft HealthVault - "If medical records go fully electronic and you can upload all your records to a single site and throw in all your medical bits and bobs like prescriptions and the like and then allow any doctor or health provider to access this data then … screw you HSE."
Which drew some interesting responses from commentators, like this from Conor O'Neill -
"If medical records go fully electronic and you can upload all your records to a single site and throw in all your medical bits and bobs like prescriptions and the like and then allow any doctor or health provider to access this data then … screw you HSE."
"After the bullshit we’ve been through trying to get one of our kid’s x-rays out of CUH, anything is an improvement. They appear to think that they own our data. Not only that but we took the kid to a consultant who said he wanted to take an x-ray. We pointed out that it had already been taken but GP forgot to send it to him. Problem would have been solved instantly by HealthVault. My data on my terms, stored and accessed by who I chose. And not a single illiterate HSE staff member who can’t spell our kid’s name to be involved anywhere."
I went for a colonscopy in Bon Secours hospital Tralee recently where a nurse (not someone from admin) spent 20 minutes transcribing my answers to the same questions I've answered every single time I've been in hospital. Why skilled nursing staff have to manually submit data which has already been recorded on some other hospital computer somewhere, time and time again, just boggles the mind and smacks of the desperate state that our health service is in.
In a post to Blognation Conor widens out the topic beyond one sector of our civil service to ask the question - is it time for a government API?
"Expecting the public service to build webapps for us is a fool’s errand. They would spend €100m, take five years and it wouldn’t work when it was finished. However, if they make each department’s data available along with some simple APIs, then citizens can do it for themselves, or pay someone to do it. Free unlimited access to all APIs for individual or non-commercial use and some small pay-as-you-go for commercial use.
There is still a strong belief in the public service that somehow they own our data whether that is a hospital telling me I can only get my son’s x-rays through the Freedom of Information act, the Ordnance Survey keeping an iron-grip on GIS data or local government publishing data in proprietary Word docs and PDFs."
The Ordinance Survey situation galled me so much a few years ago, when I bought my first GPS device, that I setup a Yahoo Group called OpenEir to see if we could build an “open source map” of Ireland. There was quite a bit of interest but it never took off.
On a separate note I trawled through all the government department websites lately in search of RSS feeds and found that only 5 departments - (1)Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, (2) Enterprise, Trade and Employment, (3) Environment, Heritage and Local Government, (4) Health and Children, and (5) Social and Family Affairs, provided feed for their press sections. The department of Health and Children stands out for offering 6 separate feeds. How ironic that it’s not Communications, Energy and Natural Resources!
I was actually thinking of building scrapers for each of the other departments but feck it… why should I even have to consider that. Yes, Government should also have an API but RSS feeds would be a nice simple start!