Chris Netherton

Chris Netherton

Managing Director, Microtest

A report published this week by the BMA says patients are being put at risk by GPs being forced to carry out complex consultations in 10 minutes or under.

The doctors’ union said patient care was undermined when GPs were forced to see as many as 60 patients a day. It called for more funding to allow GPs to spend at least 15 minutes with each patient.

Although NHS England said consultation lengths were up to doctors and there were no national limits suggesting 10 minutes, the NHS Choices website does state that ‘GPs spend average of 8-10 minutes with each patient.’

This week’s BMA report follows their report earlier this month on safe working for GPs. It called for a reorganisation and warned that GPs faced “unsustainable pressure” from increasing workload and staff shortages.

Digital health has a vital role to play in tackling these issues and helping GPs continue to provide excellent patient care in the face of mounting pressure.

One significant area where the GP’s clinical IT system can help is through enabling the GP to deal with multiple patient issues on one visit. Not only does this lead to better patient care, it reduces the need for further visits to the surgery by the patient. This helps reduce pressure on the surgery time and ultimately increases the productivity and performance of the surgery.

IT systems can indicate at a glance areas of patient risk as well as highlight procedures or tests for which the patient is due or from which they could benefit. All clinical information is to hand, helping optimise decision making. In addition, certain modules can assist greatly with safe and cost effective prescribing.

What’s more, the clinical IT system allows follow up appointments to be booked quickly with the right people and ensures that data is shared appropriately between clinicians. It also saves the surgery time by ensuring documentation is in line with QOF and Enhanced Services. And it can help enable nursing staff to combine long term conditions checks – rather than treat each condition separately as condition checks overlap each other.

These are only a few top line examples from a whole range of ways in which IT can help streamline the process.

The time saving this brings the surgery is enormous.

In short, making appropriate use of digital health tools can provide critical guidance and help GP surgeries save time and money. As surgeries are encouraging patients to go online to make appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view their GP records, the patient too is now being encouraged to play an active role in this digital revolution.

At Microtest, we are focussed on continuing to enhance our world class IT system so it can play its role in helping GPs address the challenges highlighted by the BMA. In the face of immense challenges in the NHS including shrinking budgets, staff shortages and increasing workloads, digital health is the future.

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