The development of renal IT in the UK
One crucial element in the development of UK nephrology in which the Renal Association has played a key role is the development of renal information technology.
Every day we take for granted that IT systems are there and ready to assist us as we deliver care for people with kidney disease. But this was not always so.
But, for example, there was a time when the way to get results after the transplant clinic was to phone the biochemistry lab and transcribe the results into a paper flow chart in the patient’s notes as the lab staff read them out.
There was a time when there was no UK Renal Registry and we had no idea about the comparative performance of our units, and no prospect for the opportunities now afforded by a comprehensive registry for epidemiological studies, public health research, audit, and quality improvement.
There was a time when none of our patients had the opportunities now given by PatientView to review their own results and other renal health data.
There was a time when there was no registry of patients with rare renal diseases, as is now the case through RaDaR, to improve care and foster research.
These remarkable developments did not always begin as we might hope through coordinated, well planned, well-funded efforts. As so often when health care improves, it happens through the blood, sweat and tears of groups of prescient individuals who see the potential and are willing to commit themselves to make things happen.
Some of these developments were first initiatives of the Renal Association, others were not, but almost all of the leaders were Renal Association members, and part of the history is how the Renal Association supported and embraced these systems as they emerged.
Here we will be honouring and celebrating the achievements of those enthusiasts by recording the history of these Renal IT developments.
The beginning of clinical renal computing
In 2017, Es Will assembled surviving colleagues who were the linchpins of the British Renal Computing Group, which was the driving force for the developments which paved the way for the clinical information systems through which we all now care routinely for our patients, and which have placed renal medicine at the forefront of clinical computing from the 1980s onwards.
The transcript of their one-day seminar is provided below and makes a fascinating read. Es has given their discussions context by adding a characteristically thoughtful introduction.