An App for that…

Training Primary Care - NHS - GPs - An app for that...

The Tower of Babel… perhaps like me, you learned the story from Sunday school?  

Actually ‘Tower of Babel’ does not appear in the Bible.  It is referred to as the ‘city and tower’, or just ‘city’.

The narrative is an aetiology, an explanation of a custom, ritual or phenomenon… in this case, the origin of cultural differences.

That said, pardon me speaking to God; in the great scheme of things, it would have been a lot more convenient if we all spoke the same language!  

The world’s most spoken language is English 1.123bn, Mandarin Chinese 1.117bn then Hindi, Spanish and French.

If mankind had learned anything, from the City of Babel, you’d think the big-brain wizards of IT would have somehow realised making stuff that doesn’t speak to other stuff, is a bad idea and perpetuates Babelness.

We saw it with VHS and Betamax.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Ask yer granny.  

Companies produce kit that does more or less the same as someone else’s kit, so to create a market edge, a differential, they make it un-interoperable.  I won’t speak to their competitors stuff.   Won’t work together.  

We saw it in the early days of NHS computing.  Main-frame, US, insurance-health billing systems, imported into the NHS as patient record systems  They were almost useless and impossible to expand using anything other than US proprietary systems and too expensive to get rid of.  We were trapped.  

More a prisoner of technology than a customer.

We have made almost no progress with interoperability and as tech gets more technical and more ubiquitous, the problem is compounded.

If it is possible to make it worse, the arrival of Apps is a double curse.

Apps are so easy to develop and so seductive in their appeal, there are thousands of them and guess what… they seldom talk to each other and even rarer they talk to static systems.

If you wear and Apple Watch with the health app, where do you plug it into the NHS?  Is anyone interested?

NHSX have this problem  to fix.  Their latest blog on the topic is worrying…

They say;

‘… we’ve been listening to the many developers who want to build great technology for the NHS.’

I’d have been much more relaxed if they’d said; ‘… we’ve listened to the NHS to see what great technology they want built for them.

Much the same as when pharma used to turn up and say we’ve invented this drug, patients need it, you have to buy it.  We put a rationale behind the use of resources and invented NICE.

NHSX added;

‘… We have also heard that there is no clear route into the NHS and care market for digital health innovators.’

That’s true.

Pick any product and from potatoes to Proton Beam machines, the NHS will be the biggest domestic customer.  It buys more of anything than anyone.  It will end up buying more Apps… it’s just the way it is.  Brow-beaten and bamboozled.  

How do we create a route for Apps that doesn’t turn into a torrent of stuff we don’t really want.

The NHS App library was supposed to deal with all that kind of thing but it’s been swamped.

NHSX answer?  It looks like a real cat’s cradle.  They plan;

  • NHS recognised Digital Health Technology Standards, 
  • a list of external assessors to decide what does and what doesn’t meet the standards, 
  • keep the library going and;

‘Working with the Accelerated Access Collaborative, we’ll provide a pipeline into the NHS through: guiding developers through technical standards and regulations; enabling developers to connect with components such as NHS login; and matchmaking commissioners’ needs with the developers who can meet them.’

… specification writing, advertising, tendering, recruited, trained, planned, technical guidance written, tool-kits in place, up-n-running, by spring 2020.  That’s about 100 working days.  Good luck… 

…I hope they’ve got an App for that.

Have a good weekend.

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