A lifelong interest in health informatics inspired Professor Iain Carpenter to take up the demanding role of founding chair of the PRSB in 2013. As he retires from the organisation, he discusses the PRSB's achievements, its future challenges and his plans for retirement.
I was asked to set up the PRSB by Connecting for Health at the end of 2012, having joined the health informatics unit at the Royal College of Physicians in 2005. As founding chair, I had to work extremely hard to get the organisation under way, with little more than the good will and commitment of a few people. The first few years were a struggle and we had to fight hard to get funding. We really did start from nothing and had to persuade the Department of Health, NHS Digital (or Health and Social Care Information Centre as it was then) and NHS England that these standards were the way forward.
What sparked your interest in the topic?
I have always had an interest in health informatics and improving patient care through information sharing. What triggered the creation of the PRSB was trying to find a structure for the concept of medical records across all care disciplines, in a way that was accessible. It took a long time to agree what it was we needed. We started out with just a small group of people who had this vision for digital records, which could be shared at all different points of care to enhance patient experience and safety. We all kept coming and slogging on together, right from the early days where we were just starting to convince people that this was something they should be involved with. After a lot of hard work, we have reached a point where standards for structuring care records is now part of national policy.
What has been your greatest achievement since joining the PRSB?
What's really been great has been watching the organisation grow. We've moved from struggling to exist to being a proper corporate organisation with everything we need to do that. We have a proper management board, a chief executive, an executive team, membership management and communications. My job is done. I was asked to chair a group to set it up and that's what been most satisfying - to get this set up and ready to grow and develop.
How will you be involved in the PRSB moving forwards?
I still get excited about talking about what matters to patients and care professionals. There are so many aspects of care and I am very passionate about the ways in which we can make them work together and become more integrated. We've put a huge amount of effort in to get the PRSB up and running, and moving forward I will continue to have input where I can add value. In a way this is a second retirement for me, after being involved in many projects over the last few years. I will need to make plenty of time for sailing, walking, playing the keyboard and playing my trumpet. In terms of advocating the importance of information sharing, I am speaking at the British Geriatrics Society conference later this year and the interRAI conference in Amsterdam. So although I'm retiring, I will still keep my hand in as my interest in making sure standards are used everywhere health and care information is shared remains as strong as ever.