Healthcare IT system supplier EMIS is encouraging its GPs practices to sign up to its primary care tracking database QSurveillance to help provide national and local information on swine flu.

EMIS said the QSurveillance database is already providing information on 23m patients from 3500 GP practices and that the level of detail provided in reports to governments and health authorities had been increased following the rapid rise in the spread of swine flu.

The system, a not-for-profit partnership between EMIS and Nottingham University, provides daily and weekly reports to the Health Protection Agency, The Department of Health and health authorities across the UK.

Dr David Stables, medical director of EMIS and a director of QSurveillance, said the tool enabled NHS planners to quickly identify flu hot spots to ensure resources are focused where they are most needed.

He added: “The database gives the Department of Health an accurate national picture of the disease as well as helping local services to respond more effectively. We are encouraging even more GPs to sign up to ensure we have the most comprehensive picture available.”

EMIS said the system was believed to be the largest, most up-to-date real-time tracking system worldwide. Daily reports now include patients reporting flu-like symptoms in the last day, patients with flu who have been prescribed antivirals, patients prescribed antivirals without a confirmed flu diagnosis and hospital admissions related to flu.

Julia Hippisley-Cox, professor of epidemiology at Nottingham University and director of QSurveillance, said the flexibility of the system meant reports could be quickly adapted to provide a more detailed picture on swine flu to support planning and delivery of vaccines and other resources.

She added: “The data will also enable us to describe the epidemiology of the virus, monitor changes in its behaviour and highlight the type of patient most affected. This data can then be used to make further essential predictions.”

Instructions on how activate the QSurveillance module within the EMIS LV system are available on the QResearch website and weekly QSurveillance bulletins can be downloaded from the Health Protection Agency.