Less choice of system and mandated interoperability are likely to be the future of general practice IT, according to the Department of Health’s programme director for GP IT.
Kemi Adenubi told last week’s EMIS National User Group conference that no decisions had been made about future funding for GP IT when GP Systems of Choice ends in 2013.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the new world and whether GPs are going to hold the money for GP systems and where choice is going to sit and that’s actually very empowering," she told conference goers.
Adenubi, who led the negotiations for GPSoC, said the number of GP systems on the framework was “unsustainable” for the NHS and for suppliers such as EMIS, which now has three GPSoC-approved systems.
She added: “We need to look at how we consolidate from the ten or so systems in the marketplace to four or five systems.”
Adenubi said a series of four workshops were being set up with the Joint IT Committee of the BMA and Royal College of GPs to look at the way ahead.
One of these groups would look at who should hold the funding for GP IT in future, including the possibility of funding being held at GP practice level or by clinical commissioning groups.
A second group would seek to define what should be the scope of a GP system and a third would examine interoperability.
“It will look at what systems that GP practices use should be mandated to have interoperability,” she said.
Adenubi added that could mean mandating a GP interface for the document management systems GPs wanted to use as well as what she described as “functional interoperability” with other care settings.
A fourth working group will develop a survey of GP IT systems to get feedback on what practices think about the systems that they use.
Adenubi said the working groups would not have decision making powers but seek to establish a consensus before decisions were made. She said a new system would be in place to take over when GPsoC ends in March 2013.
Adenubi told the conference NHS Connecting for Health was also looking at changing the way it provided assurance of NHS IT systems, which she said would mean GP IT suppliers taking “even more responsibility” for their systems.
Adenubi also said it was not going to be possible to deliver all the GP IT needs outlined in the DH’s Liberating the NHS white paper.
“There is a long list of needs to support commissioning and a long list of needs for clinical care and we are not going to be able to support all of them.”
She told the EMIS NUG, which attracted around 400 GPs and NHS managers, that a further group would be formed with around 12 to 15 people covering policy makers, suppliers and GP representatives to categorise what she defined as “core” requirements for GP IT in future, “strategic” requirements and requirements which would be left to the market to deliver.
Adenubi said she herself had been frustrated by the slow pace of development of GP IT systems through the GPSoC framework and described how the DH had done a “deadly dance” with EMIS to bring it on to the GPSoC framework.
“We desperately needed each other. GPSoC had to sign up EMIS and it was important to EMIS so they would be on an equivalent funding level to the LSP solutions.”
She argued that ultimately the future of GP IT lay with GPs because she said the choices GPs made, such as whether to stick with EMIS’s LV and PCS systems rather than move to EMIS Web, would dictate what happened in future.
© 2011 EHealth Media.
Register: To add a comment you must be registered.