Efficient doctors need IT prescription - Telegraph
by FoodMaestro | 20 July 2015
The cost of an IT system to collect clinical data from GPs in England has already risen from £14m to £40m during its planning and procurement. And it still shows no signs of fully materialising, as pressure grows to improve health service efficiency.
The answer, as so often, could lie in new technology and there are abundant ways that GPs and other doctors can adopt tech developments to reduce costs and improve the care of their patients.
Whether using products such as Telehealth, which uses apps and texting to treat patients without the need to visit hospital, Sleepio, an online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) programme aiming to reduce insomnia, or Simman 3G, a robot that makes sure doctors are prepared to treat patients with allergic reactions, medicine is constantly changing – and GPs, running practices as small businesses, must adapt, cut costs and find innovative treatments.
Even if a practice does not have the funds for an allergy-simulating robot, increasing efficiency can be as easy as sending text appointment reminders, digitising and emailing consultation and X-ray notes, or ensuring buildings’ energy efficiency.
Scott Hague, development director at Integrated Change, which develops apps for healthcare clients to improve efficiencies, says: “From completely removing the paper trial for new patient referrals to helping on-call NHS emergency teams to log and manage a major incident, many of our clients are now realising the productivity gains and time savings that new technology can bring to their internal work practices.”
While the NHS must take responsibility for efficiency, GPs are also answerable, says psychologist Rob Stewart. “The NHS can come up with clever initiative after clever initiative, but without accountability the wastage will continue.”
Dharmendra Patel, co-founder of FoodMaestro, a digital portal that gives GPs immediate online access to pre-analysed food product information, believes the responsibility goes further than the NHS and GPs – it also lies with patients.
“Giving them the right tools through technology enables them to capture relevant information they can share with their GP,” he says. “This gives GPs a better starting point for understanding patient issues, which ultimately enhances patient care.”
While we may have to wait a while for the clinical data system to be a reality, GPs can improve the quality of their practices, budgets and patient care by embracing the tech at their disposal.