The day when any GP or district nurse using EMIS technology will be able to carry patient records and add consultation notes on a Palm or pocket PC is getting close.

Demonstrations of mobile technology for GPs and community nursing at the EMIS National User Group conference showed well-advanced software that is eagerly awaited: the session on mobile EMIS was moved to a larger room and given double the length of time originally planned.

EMIS is one of the most widely used systems in UK primary care with 4,600 general practice installations and other community users in hospices, drug dependency units and healthcare schemes for homeless people.

Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, who practises in Surrey, demonstrated Pocket EMIS for GPs. Its functionality includes registration details, history, problems list, prescribing and an “add consultation” feature.

He said the software would be in “proper beta phase” towards the end of the year.

In an earlier session, Christine Hunter, a health visitor who has led a pioneering project in Gateshead to implement the EMIS community module on mobile technology, described the ups and downs of her work, but concluded, “It is worth the effort.”

Problems encountered included: co-ordinating the work of nursing staff who work for the local NHS trust with GP practices, waits for hardware installation, staff who wanted to work at different speeds and debates over the nurses’ decision to close off their electronic notes from staff who work on front desks in surgeries.

Ms Hunter said she wished she had known IT jargon before she started work and felt training in the Prince system of project management would have been very useful.

On the plus side, colleagues have reported improvements in the quality of records and an external audit of the system is being done.

Six practices now have the community module installed with 16 more to go and physiotherapists are due to start using the module later this autumn.