GP practices are being encouraged to harness innovative IT services to improve the quality of care they deliver to patients.
The BMA’s General Practitioner Committee has launched a new publication setting out examples of how GPs have developed services for their patients to inspire others to follow suit.
Developing general practice: listening to patients says IT innovations in use include a surgery that has interactive computer pods in its waiting room so patients can record feedback on a touch-screen computer giving staff live comments on the care and services being offered.
‘Listening to patients’ says others other practices offer web-based prescription ordering, appointment booking, and appointment reminders by text message. One practice told the GPC that it has a system which allows GPs to see online all correspondence relating to a patient, their tests results and if inpatients, which wards they have been admitted to.
The new GPC guidance adds: “General practice has the highest level of computer use and IT literacy of any part of the NHS, and the UK’s General Practice IT is amongst the best in the world.”
Dr Laurence Buckman, chair of the GPC, launched the guidance at this years’ National Local Medical Committees conference.
He told representatives: “This is the year of quality, when we show our patients and the public what we can do and how well we can do it.”
The publication also offers advice on how GPs can best manage opening times and complex appointments systems and suggests the development of practice charters.
Dr Buckman said: “It should be normal for all of us to think ‘how does this look to my patients?’ We can always improve aspects of the practice and in doing so make the surgery more inviting.”
In his speech to the conference Dr Buckman claimed primary care was under continuing threat from commercialisation and criticised the plans to open a Darzi centre in every primary care trust.
He added: “Patients don’t just want a fast service, they want a good service. They want continuity, conscientiousness and caring, not just any human with a computer.
They want their records kept safe, not given away to the police or anyone else who can persuade the Department or pay for the privilege. They want the quality they know we offer, not something visited on them by a remote “provider”.
Dr Buckman told representatives that the GPC would work with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on the Quality and Outcomes Framework even though the changes had been forced upon them.
He said the GPC “loathed the idea of local QoFs” and was pleased that the government had put them on the back burner but added that he expected them to re-emerge “when least appropriate”.
He urged the government to work with the profession and said GPs remain resolute in their determination to deliver the highest quality of care to patients.