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e-Health Group

Updated October 2012

Background - How did the e-health network start?

In 2000 a group of nurses went to the RCN because they felt that there was an emerging area of nursing practice - loosely called e-health - which desperately needed the development of nurse insight, a nurse voice and nurse representation at the professional level.

Who were these original nurses?
These are the nurses who were in that original group - in alphabetical order and with descriptive notes written by themselves back in 2004:

Bernice Baker RN, BA, PG Dip Business Admin

"I am a freelance consultant nurse - I've been self employed for 9 years - and my background is A&E, Occupational Health, Nurse Practitioner Roles and Education and teaching around telephone consultation. I also teach about professional issues, accountability and entrepreneurial awareness for nurses. I have been involved with NHS Direct and NHS 24 training and education and currently one of my portfolio roles is as a Lecturer Practitioner and Consultancy with IHCS at Bournemouth University. I am passionately interested in nurses developing e-health with a full multi-disciplinary systems awareness of the possibilities - rather than being victims of what is imposed. e-health is a wonderful opportunity for us all - but we need to research and develop it to its maximum potential to support us, rather than being a tool which drives delivery."

Bernie Edwards

I have been qualified as a nurse for over 25-years and currently work as a Senior Lecturer for IHCS, Bournemouth University. My clinical background is A&E however over recent years my primary interest has expanded to include all aspects of Open Access Health Care. E-health presents a unique opportunity to re-engineer the way our health care system is accessed by the citizen and to provide a seamless journey through it. It is imperative that as nurses we are actively engaged in evolving a service that is truly client led. I have just completed my PhD which explored the process of nurse triage both face-to-face and via the telephone. What this research has shown is that geographical separation from the client and electronic mediation fundamentally alters the nature of the health professional-patient relationship and that we cannot simply impose existing models of practice onto these burgeoning clinical arenas. Nurses are the ones who make it happen for the client and I believe passionately that any system of care involving nursing should be based on primary nursing research that makes visible the health gains only nurses can bring."

David Lane RGN DipN (Lond)

"I am a nurse with over 20 years experience in clinical care, including ICU, CCU, medicine and surgery. Most recently I spent 13 years managing a Stroke Rehabilitation ward during the implementation and further development of Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare (WEHT) NHS Trusts, Healthcare Information System. I therefore have extensive first hand experience using an integrated clinical system and moving a ward from traditional paper to electronic multidisciplinary documentation. My current role is Clinical Informatics Manager at WEHT where I work with both the clinical and technical communities to further progress our clinical use of information technology. As a previous Royal College of Nursing Advisor on Information in Nursing and an active member of the Nursing Professions Information Group I have worked with, and provided nursing advice to, the NHS Information Authority and more recently the National Programme for IT (NPfIT). I firmly believe that full and proper use of information and communication technology, as an integral part of clinical practice, is essential if health care professionals are to provide the highest quality of clinical care and patient empowerment in the modern NHS. Without seamless multidisciplinary clinical records, which enable effective clinical communication at the point of care, it is difficult to see how the NHS can meet the demands of an ever more complex healthcare system."

Lynda Sibson Nurse Consultant MSc RGN RSCN

"My nursing career has largely been in primary care, as a Practice Nurse and latterly a Nurse Practitioner, managing a nurse-led Minor Treatment Centre, focusing on primary care, minor illness & injury management that was supported by a telemedicine link. She subsequently managed the Skin Cancer Screening Project in Plymouth. This project formed the basis of her research for her MSc dissertation of patient satisfaction and perceptions with telemedicine as a model of screening suspicious skin lesions. I currently works in 3 roles as a;

- Part-time Senior Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire
- Nurse Consultant with the Modernising HealthCare Partnership
- Managing Director, Telemedicine Information Exchange, Europe

Whilst only one 'job title' contains the word nurse that is essentially how I perceive myself professionally."

Marie Bryson

I have been nursing since the late 1970's and my career spans over a variety of nursing posts including working with social services in an elderly mental infirm unit in Northern Ireland, practice nursing in Germany with BAOR, and telephone consultation and assessment in a variety of services; most recently in my current role as a Nurse Advisor with NHS Direct.

I have worked with computers since the early 1980's and became involved with them in the 1990's when the computer was introduced to the ward. I was one of the few who tried to make it work! As I am dyslexic I found that the word-processing programmes a great help, but the ward software was not user friendly more of a hindrance, as it was time consuming and generated a great deal of data, none of which was useful, for my role. However, it was potentially a wonderful tool to support improvements in care

In 1996, I became injured and it was then that I discovered how supportive a computer could be, as the Internet operates 24/7! I was able to email other work-injured nurses who understood my worries (RCN WING Group) and found the whole experience very therapeutic.

I have been active in the RCN since 1996 as a Steward and Safety Rep and was one of the first Learning Reps. I have always been an active member of the Information in Nursing Forum (ING) and was one of the original nurses to try and establish an RCN e-Health Steering Group. I am currently an RCN Steward and Safety Rep activist and represent the Eastern Region for Essex, where I chair the Eastern Regional Safety Reps committee and I am vice chair of the Stewards committee. I am glad that our eHealth Nurses Network is working in parallel with the RCN ING, as I feel there is a critical need for a strong professional nursing voice at this time.

As stated earlier, I work at the NHS Direct and have spoken out to try and get telephone consultation recognised as a Field of Practice, in its own right, within the RCN. My biggest passion is to establish front line nurse communication with soft/hardware designers in order to ensure that they develop what we need, rather than them imposing what they think we need.

Sandra Nolan RGN BA MA

I am a qualified nurse of many years standing and my clinical background is occupational health, orthopaedics and rheumatolgy. For the last 10 years I have been heavily involved in education of staff, nursing and non-nursing and currently I am the Education and Professional Development Co-ordinator at NHS Direct North West Coast .

My involvement with e-health is primarily through the telconsultations carried out at NHS Direct and I am supportive of all health care professional who have to take queries and questions from the public and patients over the telephone, and who often have to make judgements without the supportive recording systems or interactive recordable protocols and guidelines. I am also heavily involved in distance learning and using videoconferencing for learning, as many of the NHS Direct nurses are working at remote sites. I am a member of the following RCN Forums: The Information in Nursing Forum, WING, and The Education Forum.

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Since the early days when we were trying so hard to get established many colleagues within the initial group above have gradually been pulled away by their workloads and responsibilities to do other things and create other opportunities - indeed many of you may now know them in senior posts in organisations in which you work - but this Network remains indebted to their early tireless efforts to establish the concept of a supportive and pro-active on-line nurse resource for eHealth in the UK. They remain recognised for that work in the biographies above.

So where are we now (October 2012)? Although colleagues in the original group above have imevitably moved on the Network continues to be hosted and supported as a Practice Development Project by the School of Health and Social Care at Bournemouth University. We have continued to be very pro-active trying to get a mechanism set up which would support our vision - to access eHealth awareness in its widest sense for all nurses; to ensure nurses studied the opportunities alongside multi-disciplinary colleagues; to ensure government level strategists were aware of the depth of nurse knowledge and commitment available - but poorly supported - at the front line; to ensure educational providers were aware of the emerging e-health systems learning needs; to be sure trusts and GPs were aware of their staff's multi-disciplinary e-health developmental needs.

Back in 2004 we started by setting a definition of e-health - which is still current today:
The promotion and facilitation of health; well-being with individuals; families and the enhancement of professional practice by the use of information & communication technology"
[adapted from Gott (1993) Telehealth & Telemedicine in the Electronic Home]

And our aim:
"To facilitate professional development through the exploration of e-health and it's impact on patient care within a new collaborative environment"

Being hosted and supported by Bournemouth University enables us to maintain our independence whilst continuing to be fully supportive of the RCN Information in Nursing Forum and other eHealth based organisations. Recent years have brought massive changes in health care - right across the UK - alongside changes to related nurse organisations such as the Forums within the RCN. This has resulted in the Network being re-focused on the provision of up-to-date e-Health news as an invaluable resource for busy nurses through periods of immense change and challenge. We ensure the news on all the regional and country pages is updated every month (usually mid month) and are endeavouring to add extra features . Visitor numbers to our news pages continue to be impressive, indicating a need for such a 'news' resource.

We can only hope that in the future a funding source is found that will enable us to offer even more. Please do contact us if you have any suggestions or comments - or if you'd like to help!

Bernice Baker
October 2012
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