David Ingram

Published On


Page Range

pp. 527–548


  • English

Print Length

22 pages

10. Half and Whole

Halfway between Information Age and Information Society

  • David Ingram (author)
The previous chapter will have left no doubt that there remains a huge amount still to do. Echoing Bon Jovi, this final chapter builds on a theme of being halfway there! We are at halftime in the transition from Information Age to Information Society health care. The chapter is a halftime report to the new teams girding their loins to come on for the second half. Human societies define themselves by their values and traditions and how they adapt and change in times of anarchic transition.

In whatever way we evolve as individuals and communities in the coming years, the information technology and utility that inform, support and enact health care systems and services will only contribute in half measure to what is needed to create and sustain health and health care for the Information Society. I recount, with her approval, the personal struggle through medical accident, intensive care and prolonged rehabilitative care of my doctor wife, over a two-year period. The story of her survival and recovery is bipartite: half about the health care services and support she experienced and half about her character, struggle and determination to get well.

The book comes full circle, having connected around Shiyali Ranganathan’s (1892–1972) circle of knowledge and a cycle of learning about the coevolution of health care with the science and technology of the Information Age. This has been a first half of transition played out on a landscape populated with emerging and immature information technology. It is a preface to a second half, yet to come, to be played out in the context of maturing information technology and new bioscience, artificial intelligence and robotics, accompanied by an emerging and supportive, citizen-centred information utility. It will play out in the context of new device technologies, information systems and networks that enable much more of health care to be based at home and in the local community, be that in city centres or the most remote of outback communities in the world. There will be a continuing adventure of ideas, anarchy of transition and reform, played out around new circles of knowledge and cycles of learning.


David Ingram


David Ingram’s career from 1967 spanned posts in industry, the NHS and University Medical Schools. After undergraduate physics at Oxford and several years in the medical engineering industry, he studied computer science and completed doctoral research on the mathematical modelling of biological systems, at University College London. His first academic post was at The Medical College of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, from 1975, where he was appointed Professor of Medical Informatics in 1990. From 1995-2011, he was the founding Director of the UCL Centre for Health Informatics and Multiprofessional Education (CHIME). David participated as partner and reviewer in UK Research Council, NHS, national e-Science and EU Health Informatics programmes and projects, including leading the EU GEHR Project (1991-94). This laid the foundations for the ISO-adopted openEHR specifications for a novel, vendor and technology neutral method for standardising the design of electronic health records, now being taken forward internationally by the openEHR.Foundation, of which he is the Founding President and Chairman of the Board of Governors. He is a founding Trustee of the OpenEyes Foundation, which is developing and marketing opensource software for ophthalmology, now providing the care record for 40% of UK patients. In retirement since 2010, he is focused on keeping well – eg by learning and using a new language, tracking lively grandchildren, following new physics, and learning to dance properly! Recently, he has become active in promoting a novel new technology to provide prescription glasses at very low cost for the developing world, where their lack causes extreme hardship.