This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

A faulty production line

Mission Impossible?

  • Print
  • 2
  • Save

We had a lucky reprieve today at my practice.

No, the CQC inspector didn’t phone to say sorry they’d have to cancel their visit because they were stranded due to floods.  Neither did the senior partner hand in his resignation.  Actually, I wish he had because I’m next in line, but that’s another story.

What did happen was the local pathology department’s request and reporting software (Sunquest ICE) planned upgrade at my local hospital had been postponed.  If the upgrade had gone ahead, requesting tests, including both pathology and imaging, would have been unavailable from eight o’clock in the morning until one o’clock in the afternoon.

Now I know I’m getting on a bit and you can call me old fashioned, but as far as I’m aware that is just about the time most GPs are dealing with the bulk of the days patient demand and not being able to order tests for half a day would have a pretty significant impact on workload.

In fact, I would go as far as to say this should be regarded as a ‘mission critical system’ and the dictionary definition of this is ‘a system that is essential to the survival of a business or organisation. When a mission critical system fails or is interrupted, business operations are significantly impacted.’

So, you can imagine our relief when the email popped up saying the upgrade had been postponed - until the same time at a future date.

I contacted the hospital to politely enquire why those particular times had been chosen and not something more sensible like early morning, evening or even over a weekend.  The reply was the technicians didn’t work those hours.

A bit like GPs I guess, and we regard ourselves as Mission Critical, or is that just Mission Impossible?

Readers' comments (2)

  • Presumably the Pathology department's software is also considered line or business, or, as you say, mission critical. Therefore it would be in the best interests (as well as plain old common sense) that any such upgrades to line of business applications are completed outside of core operating hours, at least avoiding peak times. As the old saying goes however, there is nothing common about common sense!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    We have ICE last three years in Liverpool, mate.
    It is beauty and the beast.
    On one hand , you can order bloods and tests electronically and in fact trace any results of your patients including those arranged by hospital colleagues in OPD as well as in-patients.So if you send a patient into emergency admission today , you can trace all results to see for instance their Troponin T was raised , CXR showed pneumothorax or consolidation etc. Of course, if the patient had a CT last week ( arranged by a consultant ) , you can trace the report instead of waiting for the consultant to write to you.
    But here is the problem , the consultant will have the temptation to say to the patient to go straight to the GP to check ICE no matter how complicated the test is.
    Another thing is 'frozen' . ICE is really icy , the screen can freeze time to time and you can do nothing other than switching the power off (would not even allow you to close the screen cos everything is really frozen). Having said this , I am not sure whether this is a local problem to ICE.
    Like you , I am 'promoted' to senior partner as both two of my seniors had stepped down , best of luck , mate

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

  • Print
  • 2
  • Save