Digital Health News columnist Dr Neil Paul has been awarded the John Perry Prize for his contribution to computing in primary care.

Paul, a GP at Sandbach GPs, said he was honoured to receive the long-running award from the BCS Primary Healthcare Specialist Group, which is named after a pioneer in primary care computing and clinical coding in 1970s.

“It’s not quite the Nobel prize but it does have a good reputation,” he said. “It recognises a person that is trying to push the boundaries of healthcare IT.”

Paul works for a large practice in semi-rural Cheshire, and is also a director of Howbeck Healthcare Ltd, which helps to support several GP federations.

He has written a regular column, Another View, for Digital Health News since 2010, which explores the IT challenges facing GP practices, federations, and their patients.

The award was given to recognise Paul’s work on Apex, a business intelligence tool he helped to develop specifically for GP practices.

Paul said there had been some great digital innovation to improve clinical care for GPs, such as the QResearch database, but there had not been as big a focus on business innovations.

“We have very little business and management intelligence about how we run ourselves, despite have a lot of data.”

The Apex tool provides a digital dashboard that tracks about 50 measures, from DNA (did not attend) rates, to appointment flows and staff output.

The tool is used by about 100 practices in south Cheshire and surrounding areas. He is hoping to expand it a group of 300 practices to further refine Apex for wider use.

“It’s early days but it’s quite exciting. It has the potential to help GPs delivery the operation transformation needed.”

More broadly, Paul has been long-term advocate for better IT in primary care, including in his previous role as chief clinical officer at NHS South Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Previous winners of the award have included Mary Hawking for her work on information governance, and Harry Longman for his work on GP Access.