Four out of five GPs believe the quality of their practice data is fit for sharing, according to a survey on the future of general practice IT.

More than 500 GPs took part in a survey by doctors’ magazine Pulse which looked at GPs use of IT systems now and their views on access to information out-of-hours.

The survey found that 82% of GPs thought the quality of the data held in their practice’s clinical system was of sufficient quality to share with other healthcare. Only 7% thought their data quality was not fit for sharing and 11% said they were unsure.

The survey also found that 56% of respondents had received electronic records through the GP2GP transfer project. Just under one in three GPs (30%) thought that the quality of the records was good enough to ensure seamless delivery of a high quality service but 25% said that the quality of the records was not good enough.

GP data quality was described as one of the ‘wicked problems’ delaying implementation of the Summary Care Record in the independent evaluation of the SCR LINK published two weeks ago with researchers finding that SCRs did sometimes contain incomplete or inaccurate data.

Dr Gillian Braunold. Clinical director of the SCR and guest editor of this week’s Pulse, said the independent evaluation had “rightly pointed out the complexities of implementation” and said the forthcoming review of the SCR was “necessary to ensure the profession and patients understand what it is and its purpose.”

However, in an editorial Dr Braunold also argued that the SCR was also providing useful information where none other was available in out-of-hours care and said the surveyed showed GPs believed this was important.

The Pulse survey found that 91% of GPs believed additional clinical information should be available to clinicians to provide safe and efficient out-of-hours care. Just under a quarter of doctors (24%) said the core information provided in the SCR was enough while 39% thought an enhanced summary record including details of past medical history was important and 28% said the full detailed GP record should be available.

Dr Braunold added: “As GPs are increasingly scrutinized over the quality of out-of-hours care, we need to exploit the IT tools that have been built to improve safety while observing information governance standards to protect the confidentiality of information.”

The survey also found that few GPs currently used IT solutions to access their records while doing home visits, A total of 78% said they took a paper summary print-out, 7% said they had no clinical information available and only 6% accessed either a mobile stored copy of the GP record or had real-time remote access to detailed records.

GPs who had used email consultations were also in a minority. Of those who completed the survey 77% said they had never carried out an email consultation while 18% said they had provided email consultations in response to a patient request and 1% had after a clinician at the practice gave patients the option.

Most GPs did not support email consultations (25%) or were unsure about their benefits (51%) with only 12% reporting that they felt the benefits outweighed the drawbacks.