'No silver bullet' for GP IT

Image: Ewan Davis

The chair of the Primary Health Info 2012 conference has warned that apps will not be the ‘silver bullet’ that will solve all the problems of healthcare IT.

Ewan Davis told eHealth Insider that recent initiatives such as the Department of Health’s ‘maps and apps’ showcase event has placed great focus on the benefits of healthcare apps.

However, he said ministers should not assume apps would be a free solution. “The government is always looking for white knights riding in firing silver bullets, but unfortunately, white knights and silver bullets don’t exist,” he said.

“The apps stuff is at a point of time; it’s where the ‘zeitgeist’ is. It’s very exciting but they [the government] are naive thinking it can be done on the cheap.

"Technology can deliver useful software quicker and cheaper, but not necessarily for free.”

He also warned the ‘app explosion’ predicted last week by another conference speaker, Dr David Jehring, did not mean there were no big, central issues to be dealt with.

He said GPs at the conference were bound to be concerned about the end of the National Programme for IT in the NHS and, in particular, the end of the GP Systems of Choice contract in 2013.

He noted that the NHS information strategy is finally supposed to be out next month. But he said: “With some inside track on this, it’s a case of ‘over to you’.”

“[The message from the centre is] ‘we’ve been trying to do it for ten years, now you can get on with it’ - with the big thing being local choice, local decision making and local money.”

Another major theme will be the role of clinical commissioning groups – and commissioning support services.

“Because of the [Health and Social Care Bill] we will again be asking the question how: can you use IT and information to support clinical commissioning, as there’s not much more clarity on what that means,” he said.

On the first day of the conference, Ailsa Claire from the NHS Commissioning Board design team will be discussing ‘technological interaction between the customers and those that serve them.'

Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox from Nottingham University will highlight the benefits that can be derived from clinical data. And Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, creator of Patients Know Best, who will be talking about patient engagement.

Day two will include a talk on ‘open data and transparency’ from Dr Mark Davies, executive medical director at the health and social care information centre and will close with a session led by Dr Luke Twelves, director of clinical commissioning at UnitedHealth UK.

Ewan Davis talks to EHI editor Jon Hoeksma about Primary Health Info in a special edition of EHI TV.

Primary Health Info 2012 is being held at the Chesford Grange in Warwickshire on 24 and 25 April.

EHI Primary Care is running a survey of CCG IT and information plans. The short survey is completely confidential, but as a thank-you for completing it, you could be in with a chance to win £100 of Amazon vouchers.

Last updated: 19 April 2012 10:04

Chris Thorne

19 April 2012

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