Patients have begun to use a secure internet link to submit their blood pressure and blood sugar results to GPs in a move which could help practices hit their Quality and Outcomes Framework targets.


Almost 500 patients have so far registered for the service provided by GePmail, an electronic clinical messaging system which has been used for messaging between out-of-hours services and practices for nearly ten years.


The GePmail Patient Portal allows practices to offer their patients secure online repeat prescription requests as well as report blood pressure and blood sugar readings.

Dr Richard Fitton, a GP in Glossop, Derbyshire, and a pioneer of patient access to records, has used the service for some of his patients.


He says: “We’ve been giving patients blood pressure machines for 20 years and I don’t understand the view that you can’t trust patients. In my view patients are the most underutilised resource in the health service.”


Dr Fitton says he has not yet set the system up on a widespread basis because he has been busy with other projects. However he says even without the GePmail system patients manage their blood pressure on a regular basis at home, their results are put into their records and once or twice a year their blood pressure is checked in the surgery.


He added: “The GepMail systems works very well and I would be very happy with a combination of checks by ourselves and checks by patients for the Quality and Outcomes Framework although I don’t know if that is acceptable nationally.”


The Patient Portal works the same way for both repeat prescription requests and blood pressure and blood glucose readings.  Practices identify the patients they think are suitable for the service and those patients are given a password and unique ID that they must use each time they log in to the system.


Dr Paul Cundy, the owner of GePmail and also chair of the BMA’s  General Practitioner Committee’s IT sub-committee, says the paperless data collection system for QOF data will mean patients who do their own home monitoring can send in results securely, freeing  practice staff from handling paper, fax or telephone messages. Patients will also be able to send in spiromtery results soon.


Dr John Lord, a GP in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, says his practice has been using GePmail for repeat prescription requests for about nine months. “We wanted something that was secure and didn’t cost a lot of money to set up and this filled that gap very nicely. It suits people who have got a busy lifestyle and limited chances to get through on the telephone,” he said.

Dr Lord said his practice might use the facility to collect QOF readings. He added: “We would get a few extra recordings that might well help with the Quality and Outcomes Framework although that is not a big concern of mine.”