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Information policy

You have been asked by your line manager to produce a report on the information policy of your organisation, indicating areas of weakness and strength, and with suggestions on how to improve it to the benefit of your organisation. Introduction An Information Policy is the transformation of data to information, knowledge and wisdom involving and applying certain activities to it (compression, selection etc. ) in a given set of circumstances towards a particular goal.

Therefore information policy becomes not just compressed data, but data compressed for a purpose; the information has to have context for it to become useful. According to Bawden effective information policy is complex, not concerned with technical solutions and dependant upon an appreciation of the meaning and significance of knowledge in its context. Consider the writings of Sandra Braman, one of the most influential and consistent authors on information policy. She identified the main factors that differentiate information policies from other policies.

Information policy is unique as it is a relatively ‘new area of policy concern; it involves an unusually large number of diverse groups of players. ‘ Braman also argues that ‘decisions about information can have an enormous impact on events and policies in other area’s- the

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reverse is true to a much lesser extent. ‘ Finally she identifies that ‘information does not fit into the traditional categories employed by policy analysts; and information policies made at very different levels of the political and social structure, from the local to the global, are remarkably interdependent.

‘ It must be remembered that these issues are not unique and are typical of public and organisational information policies where the issues tend to be relatively more clear-cut and the affected parties less numerous. The NHS Organisation The National Health Service has undergone many radical changes that has revolutionised the pattern of its health care delivery in England. The policy changes that have been introduced have made it a more managerial culture. These policies through the years have improved the flow and management of information within the NHS.

The most recent of these polices being introduced in July 2000. The government radical NHS plan set about reforming the NHS and give the people of Britain a health service fit for the 21st century: a health service designed around the patient. The Secretary of State for Health at the time envisaged information and communication as vital for this plan. ‘Improving the capture, management and use of information through a national IT infrastructure is a core part of the NHS plan. We need an infrastructure that is robust, flexible, secure and standardised.

By putting in place the information policy we will provide a solid, national platform that provides the best chance of achieving lasting improvements to our health service. ‘ To deliver the NHS plan, information and IT must be an intrinsic part of the agenda for change. The purpose of improving the use of information and IT is to ensure that people will receive the best possible care. Therefore the NHS plan and e- government require that information; applications and service are to be delivered through new modern systems in new ways.

The key to this change lies in the full workplace access to electronic media through information, electronic records and a variety of other applications wherever this is required-on the desktop, in the surgery, in the patients clinic, at the bedside and on the move. Information is vital and essential for the general running of the NHS. People need information about health and healthcare for many different circumstances. Doctors need information and use their knowledge in every aspect of their job. Doctors, nurse and others in the NHS access patient information through their records, files, etc.

They build up their knowledge and information through journals, books, email, Internet and use this information to diagnose patients. Patients want to find out the information that is held on their records; also through appointments within the NHS they want to find out information about what is wrong with them. Carers, relatives or friends seek information on behalf of others. The latest information technology being developed within the NHS presents huge opportunities to improve the quality and accessibility of health services to patients and the public.

The Information Policy within the NHS should improve the way that service are delivered, making them more responsive to patients needs. The major benefits of having new technology within the NHS is the opportunity to improve the quality of care by making information faster and a lot more available to patients, specialist advice and support more accessible to GP’s and other professionals, and by bringing the services closer to people’s homes. Information ‘Routes’ through the NHS

When a patient has been treated there is a record of that treatment. These records are called ‘organisational records’ and were mainly in paper records. However through new technological advancements these records have now become electronic, Electronic Patient Records (EPR’S) that have will contribute to the lifelong record of a patient’s health and healthcare-the Electronic Health Record. Through these electronic records, patients have access to reliable information to improve their knowledge and involvement in their own treatment and care.

Healthcare professional, have rapid access to individuals medical history and current condition to enable them to provide the highest quality care when and where it is needed. Health manager s and planners have ready access to aggregate information to improve analysis and decision-making. Online information is available through NHS Direct for individual to access on healthy eating, illnesses, conditions and treatment with interactive healthcare.

People can navigate the maze of health and care information through the development of consistent information and services with easy access from their homes or work. NHS Direct provides a one-stop gateway to give people more choice without about accessing the NHS, accessing out of hours treatment without actually visiting a GP’s practice. The NHS direct nurse advises on all major issues to do with health. They advise on care at home, visiting the local pharmist, making a routine appointment, arranging for an emergency consultation, calling an ambulance or getting social services support.

A structured sight search and email facilities aid individuals in solving their problems. The NHS Direct staff finds out their information by a range of on-line databases and by a wide range of links to health services and other specialist help lines in case an individual chooses to have a referral. As well as this there is an online directory available (NHS. UK) for a patients guide to the NHS with public information on local healthcare authorities, healthcare priorities and performances within the NHS.

The NHS Direct information points are available in public places across the UK providing public access to the information available Direct online. There are only 150 touch screen information points in use at the moment but by 2004 there should be over 500 available. This might be useful for the vulnerable such as the elderly who would not necessary have access to a computer or other technology. The NHS recognises this and has sought to make improvements for these individuals in face-to-face contacts, community facilities and over the telephone.

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