Clinical commissioning groups have identified tools to compare GP practice data and to share data with secondary care as priorities for IT investment.
An exclusive survey conducted by EHI Primary Care, which attracted 64 responses, equal to almost 25% of the emerging groups in England, found that more than 75% believed that IT would be vital to the delivery of their goals.
More than two-thirds of respondents reported that they expected to invest in GP practice comparison data tools (67%) and tools to share information with secondary care (66%) over the next three years, while 67% expected to invest in GP clinical systems.
Other priorities for investment over the next three years were IT infrastructure (59%), clinical dashboards (54%), and communication tools for patients and the public (46%).
When asked to state their highest priority for investment, respondents identified GP clinical systems followed by GP practice data comparison tools. None selected patient-held record systems or tools to share information with social services as their highest priority,
Dr Peter Green, chair of Medway GP Commissioning Consortium, said his group had already invested in Audit+ software from BMJ Informatica to provide electronic prompts to GPs and other primary care clinicians to encourage better care and reduce variation in care.
The software has been in use for over a year and has already helped the CCG to improve the management of a range of conditions, including atrial fibrillation, while improving screening rates in areas such as body mass index and alcohol.
Dr Green told EHI Primary Care: “We worked on the very simple premise that clinicians want to provide good medical care but that it’s difficult. So we tried to make it easier and it appears to be working.”
Dr Paul Singer, long term conditions and information lead for the Luton Health Collaborative, said his CCG was investing in software from MedeAnalytics to help with secondary care data and was looking at solutions to enable data sharing.
He told EHI PC: “I’m going to be looking at fairly rapidly implementing something that will support transformational change on long term conditions and enable information sharing with primary, secondary and community care.
“However, while there are solutions available some people are saying they are not going to have useable solutions until well into next year.”
The survey, which was answered by GPs and managers from the first five pathfinder waves, found only 10% of respondents were ‘confident’ that they would have the funding to complete their priority IT projects.
Just one respondent was very confident and a further 31% were fairly confident, while more than half (56%) were not confident.
Almost half of CCGs (45%) said their CCG has already set up an IT working group and 47% said they had appointed an IT lead; with the remainder expecting to do so in the next 12 months.
The survey found, that only one in five CCGs had so far developed an IT strategy and only 9% had established at IT budget.
Dr Arjun Dhillon, an IT lead for Ealing Commissioning Consortium, said funding for his CCG was looking “very, very difficult” and that there was no new money for IT which was being included as an add-on to other projects and could be vulnerable to cuts.
He added: “I think the financial envelope is going to be a challenge and make it very difficult for us.”
© 2011 EHealth Media.
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