1. Ward, Rod MA Ed, BSc, RGN, RNT

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The annual HC2005 conference was held 21-23 March in Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK. It is the largest Health Informatics conference in Europe and attracted an international collection of speakers and delegates.


The focus of the conference was the National Health Service's National Programme for IT (NPfIT), which aims to connect over 30,000 Primary Care Practitioners in England to almost 300 hospitals with shared health and social care records and electronic communication systems. The tone of the conference was a little different from similar events held in recent years as the majority of the [pounds]6.2 billion (approximately US $11.5 billion) of IT supplier contracts have already been awarded.


The first keynote speech was by Nancy Lorenzi, President of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA), who gave her view of the impact that change can have on healthcare organizations and what can be done to minimize the potential damage and encourage the benefits during such change.


The focus for the rest of the conference was on UK strategy and projects, with Richard Granger, Director General of NPfIT, reporting on the progress of the program so far, highlighting achievements and challenges. He demanded that successes be celebrated and gave a warning to some suppliers that are underperforming, suggesting some of them may be replaced over the next few months. During his presentation he announced that NPfIT would be changing its name to "Connecting for Health"; however there seemed to be some consternation when it was pointed out later that this title was already "taken" by the Markle Foundation.


Alternative viewpoints were given by Kenneth Robertson, Clinical Lead for IM & T from Scottish Executive Health, who talked about Scotland's eHealth initiative, and Ian Watmore, who is the UK government's Chief Information Officer and oversees a wide range of public sector IT projects.


The nursing session "People, Software, or Machines?" was well attended and led to a wide-ranging discussion of the relationship between education and practice in Health Informatics. Other sessions in the five parallel streams considered e-prescribing, engaging clinicians in IT implementation, confidentiality in electronic records, picture archiving and communication systems, and a host of other topics.


In general, the conference was more balanced than those held in recent years with consideration of people, research, and evaluation rather than the concentration of software and software suppliers.


Next year's conference will be in the same venue from 20th to 22nd March 2006. It will be interesting to see how much of the national program has been implemented by then, and what effect this is having on patient care.


For more information on the conference and ongoing updates on next year's event, and to view the detailed session-by-session Web log kept by conference attendees, visit the following sites: and


Contributed by


Rod Ward MA Ed, BSc, RGN, RNT



At the HIMSS Conference in February 2005, Misys Healthcare Systems and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Foundation announced the first recipient of the 2005 Misys Nursing Informatics Scholarship, Kelly C. Thomas II, RN, a staff nurse at South Miami Hospital. An employee of South Miami Hospital since 1993, Thomas works in the respiratory telemetry unit and is a member of the hospital's Medical Informatics Group. He is a graduate of the University of Miami's School of Business and Miami Dade College's School of Nursing. South Miami Hospital is a 445-bed community hospital, recognized by the American Nursing CredentialingCenter as a Magnet hospital for nursing excellence.


Misys and the HIMSS Foundation are gearing up for the second annual Misys Nursing Informatics Scholarship for 2006. The Misys Nursing Informatics Scholarship awards a deserving nurse complimentary four-night hotel stay, airfare, and conference registration to the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Symposium and HIMSS Annual Conference. The nurse's primary occupational focus must be informatics at either a hospital or integrated delivery network setting. The HIMSS Nursing Informatics Symposium is a premier program offering educational sessions conducted by nurses involved in clinical systems design and implementation to improve patient care. Members of the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Task Force nominate qualified individuals, and the recipient is recognized at the HIMSS annual awards and recognition banquet and at the Nursing Informatics Symposium. Scholarship program details including the nomination process will be outlined in the July/August issue of CIN.





At the HIMSS Conference in February 2005, Sun Microsystems showcased two of its latest product developments, Identity Auditor and Sun Ray client devices, aimed at addressing privacy and security concerns in electronic medical record keeping.


Identity Auditor is a comprehensive software solution that allows users to create a secure identity audit trail and to track system access, crucial to proving compliance with regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and HIPAA.


Identity Auditor's audit policy engine scans critical applications, flags audit policy violations, and evaluates violation criteria such as segregation of duties, unauthorized access changes, and erroneous access privileges. Users can configure the system's abilities around preconfigured audit policies, or define custom audit policies to address specific organizational requirements. Identity Auditor can notify and send regularly scheduled audit reports automatically to selected reviewers, or generate notifications when a policy violation occurs. It can integrate with corporate software infrastructure to enforce automated remediation of policy violations, such as disable an account, terminate a session, or simply provide notification that a remedial action is required.


Other features include closed-loop integration with Security Event Management (SEM) applications, such as Symantec Security Management System; if a company's internal network is under attack, the SEM application can trigger Identity Auditor to take appropriate action.


In addition, Identity Auditor maintains centralized visibility and traceability of all violations, exceptions, and remedial actions. Identity Auditor can generate packaged compliance reports to provide extensive information on access activities and privileges, policy violations, and resulting actions, or users can build custom reports to meet unique requirements.


Similarly, the Sun Ray Ultrathin clients, paired with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, are being used in hospitals to improve the flow and ensure security of patient information at the point of care.


Upon admission, patients receive a paper-thin bracelet embedded with a small RFID chip containing information such as the patient's birth date, doctor's name, medication and medical information to comply with HIPAA regulations. Compared to bar coded bracelets in use at many hospitals today, RFID bracelets are welcomed by patients because they are far less intrusive.


The data on the bracelet are wirelessly transmitted to Sun Ray thin clients throughout the hospital or even personal digital assistants (PDAs) used by caregivers. Thin-client devices have no hard drive, no operating system, run no applications, consume on average 80% less power than a typical desktop PC, and are immune to computer viruses. In addition, the Sun Ray ultra-thin client solution offers easy setup and requires virtually no staff training or desktop administration.


Patient data are secure because once the Java Card (a technology-enabled smart card) is removed from the Sun Ray thin client device, the data are inaccessible; the display automatically turns blank and locks. If caregivers need to access the same data at a different Sun Ray thin client, they simply insert their smart card, authenticate by entering a password, and the screen appears exactly as they left it. Known as "hot desking," this feature allows a caregiver's "secure session" to follow him or her automatically from thin client to thin client across the entire hospital campus via the individualized smart card.


Sun envisions the system as a comprehensive solution, ensuring patients' rights to properly administered medication and procedures, tracking patients' progress through a hospital stay and notifying family members of patient progress throughout the multiple stages of a medical procedure, and ultimately reducing the time associated with gathering patient records, processing insurance claims, and storing critical data.





At the HIMSS conference in February 2005, Teksouth Corporation announced the release of the commercial version of IQ Swift, a secure file transfer management system software designed to overcome the inadequacies of file transfer protocol (FTP) for quickly and reliably moving data across computer networks.


On the basis of a solution Teksouth developed for the US Department of Defense that meets or exceeds Government security standards, IQ Swift uses a flexible architecture and built-in controls to manage the entire file transfer process and maintain a detailed record of activity. Teksouth believes this makes IQ Swift ideal for file transfer applications that must comply with privacy regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).


During a recent benchmark test of IQ Swift and FTP, Teksouth transferred 1.72 gigabytes of information in 260 files between two points on either side of the continental United States, using both IQ Swift and FTP. With IQ Swift, all 260 files were successfully transmitted over a T1 line in 17 minutes with no packet loss. Using FTP, transmission of the same file set took 25 times longer, and only 146 of the 260 files were received; file decompression after receipt added time to the process.


More information about IQ Swift, including pricing, is available from the Teksouth Web site ( or through the company's nationwide network of retailers.