A major new survey of the attitudes Yorkshire GPs to electronic patient records in primary and community care has revealed that 60% of them believe that the introduction of electronic records will improve patient care.

However, almost half (48%) of them say they either will not, or don’t know, whether they will be able to meet the 2005 deadline to have an integrated primary and community electronic record in place.

The survey suggests that a new approach to primary and community care EPR is required if the 2005 target is to be achieved, and coincides with the announcement the announcement of a new approach on hospital-based electronic records last week at HC2002.

The new NHS Primary Care Information Modernisation Programme, part of the NHS Modernisation Agency, is expected to issue detailed guidance on integrated primary and community EPRs — originally due to have been provided by the Information Policy Unit in 2001 — within the next few weeks. This is likely to be defined in terms of clinical and business functionality.

Significantly the survey, carried out by electronic record supplier ComMedica, illustrates that GPs believe primary care EPR systems have the ability to deliver major improvements to patient care and address many of the problems associated with current paper-based systems.

"The survey reveals a huge amount of interest in electronic medical records among GPs," Mark Simon, chief executive of ComMedica told E-Health Insider

Some 47% of the GPs surveyed said that lost paper patient records have slowed down diagnoses. Alarmingly, 17% added that lost records had caused the wrong drugs to be administered.

A total of 60% of GPs said they were certain electronic records, when implemented, would improve the standard of care they can offer their patients, while a further 28% thought that EPR may improve patient care.

Eighty-nine percent of GPs agreed with the statement that the use of EPR would save considerable time in their surgeries. Many of the GPs surveyed, in some areas 100%, stated that as a result of using electronic records they could either spend up to 2 minutes more with each patient or see up to five.

A top priority for the GPs was to share patient information with hospital colleagues. Ninety-three per cent of GP’s surveyed said they wanted EPR systems to share real-time patient information with specialists in hospitals, together with other health professionals in hospitals and community settings involved in delivering patient care.

Just under half of all respondents said that one of the most important EPR features would be the ability to securely access all patients’ medical records on-screen, including annotated ECG’s and X-rays.

Other improvements stated in the responses included faster referrals, improved diagnoses, less patient time wasted through missing or incomplete records and a reduction of staff stress levels.

The survey was carried out among 1,500 practising GP’s in Yorkshire, with 317 participating in the survey. The survey is now being extended throughout the UK but the results are expected to show similar trends.