PRIMIS has launched a commercial product and has more than 1,000 practices signed up for it, after losing central funding for its services.
PRIMIS is based at the University of Nottingham and provides health informatics tools, education and training to primary care providers.
The service was centrally funded for 12 years, most recently by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
A spokesperson for the HSCIC said that contract ended on 31 March and the centre has since been “taking the opportunity to review the need for data quality training across primary care within the new configuration of the NHS.”
“We feel a fresh look is needed – not least because the PRIMIS model relied on delivering training to information facilitators employed by primary care trusts, who then transferred knowledge and skills to GP staff,” she said.
“With the demise of PCTs, it is still unclear what the future holds for some of the functions they currently provide.
“For this reason, and for reasons of cost-effectiveness, we will not simply be providing a replacement service, but rather one that prioritises needs and provides what is affordable.”
PRIMIS head of training Kerry Oliver said the launch the new paid-for service – PRIMIS Hub – had allowed the organisation to expand the range of services delivered under the information centre contract.
The new service has 1,049 full paid-memberships, while about 5,000 individuals are signed up to a basic, free service with limited access to tools and services such as CHART software and query libraries.
Oliver said the majority of the purchases so far are by cluster PCTs and clinical commissioning groups, working on behalf of GP practices.
Members have access to an online forum where other members and PRIMIS staff answer questions and give advice, as well as an “ask an expert” tool, a suggestion box and e-learning guides.
Oliver said one of the dilemmas of the national contract was around demand from GPs to have direct access to PRIMIS, but this was difficult when providing a service to 9,000 practices.
The organisation has worked over the past 18 months to introduce more online learning tools, which allow practice staff to learn at their own pace rather than always having to be trained by an information facilitator.
“Now a GP can go to the hub and access instructional learning around use of tools and how they might start to use outputs of data extractions to look at how data is managed within the practice,” she added.
However, the hub community will also include more than 600 PRIMIS-trained information facilitators and other staff.
“We knew what we had created already was a community [of information facilitators] that was used to meeting, both actually and virtually, that’s what the membership service came out of. They are very much still a part of the PRIMIS family,” she explained.
Members can suggest ideas for development of tools and resources and vote for which ones PRIMIS should focus on.
The organisation will also continue to provide some important tools for free to all practices, some of which are funded by central agencies.
PRIMIS has been contracted by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership to create an e-learning tool to help GPs with clinical audits, which is important for the GP appraisal and revalidation process, Oliver explained.
Other clients include the Department of Health’s ImmForm Team as part of its work on collecting vaccine uptake data from GP practices each year.
The HSCIC spokesperson said the centre has been consulting with a range of staff groups within primary care and is assessing feedback so that it can develop a “sensible and effective way of providing training.”
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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