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Primary care faces 'app explosion'

13 April 2012   Rebecca Todd

A primary care IT specialist has predicted an “explosion” of cloud based and app technology in the sector over coming years.

Dr David Jehring, chief executive of Black Pear Software, will be sharing his thoughts at the Primary Health Info Conference 2012 running from April 23-25 in Warwick.

Dr Jehring trained as a GP but has been developing primary care software for the past 25 years.

Speaking to EHI Primary Care, he predicted a move towards more cloud-based and app-based delivery of IT services, driven by the financial incentive to push more care out into the community.

“I think there’s going to be an explosion of this technology in the next two years that will transform the way we do IT in healthcare,” he said. “Community is the first place that’s going to hit because the real business driver for it is there.”

Dr Jehring said reorganisation in the NHS was often a big driver for changes in IT and clinical commissioning groups were particularly interested in the use of community and patient portals.

“Cloud computing allows you global access to the record. It mobilises the record which is important because at the moment, the minute you step outside the GP premises you have no record access,” he said.

Dr Jehring said his company has developed a cloud-based medical record for a mobile team of clinicians in Yorkshire treating wet macular degeneration – a major cause blindness in older people.

‘Iris’ is designed to be viewed on a number of devices, but primarily the iPad and iPhone, and enables staff to take the mobile record into people’s homes.

The system does not currently connect with patients’ GP records, but it will soon use Healthcare Gateway’s Medical Information Gateway to pull information from EMIS and INPS records.

Dr Jehring is also in talks with other GP software providers about integration. Another application being developed is to support care for dementia patients in the community.

Dr Jehring said nurses at the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust were currently having to spend 40% of their day in front of a computer screen typing up notes.

A mobile application would enable them to spend more time with patients and save millions by reducing office space.

“We want to move them to the next generation, taking the whole paradigm away from desk based computing to mobile computing,” he added. “The app paradigm compared to traditional big server-based systems is much cheaper.”

Dr Jehring said healthcare computing tended to lag behind general computing and inertia and fear of change could stop worthwhile advances being made.

“If you go to any conference, library or hotel and look around, most people are clutching an Apple or Android device - the world has adopted the technology.”

He said security issues were still a concern for some people and organisations. The key was not to have data stored on the device, but use the device as a portal with data stored on a server with access through authentication.

Going mobile also required some capital investment so project champions had to be clear of the benefits to justify the capital cost, he said.

Primary Health Info 2012 is organised by the BCS Primary Health Care Specialst Group. It is taking pace at Cheshford Grange in Warwickshire from 23-25 April. More information is available on the conference website.


Last updated: 12 April 2012 16:35

© 2012 EHealth Media.


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2 way data involve patients.

NeilPaul 117 weeks ago

I'm intrigued to see yet another scheme that talks about pulling data from a GP system but doesnt mention how its going to give useful meaningful data back to the GP as 1. the gatekeeper of clincial care and 2. the commissioner. Perhaps its not mentioned in the article but too many organisations want access to my data presumably because its felt to be accuate and relevant but dont specify how they are going to give me their data in a useful, efficient,accurate, timely way to allow me to keep that record.

as a patient i want to be able to log on to a portal and see who is accessing my data and why. i might like to be texted everytime someone does for the first time and id certainly like a bank fraud like check - where if i spend outside of my normal pattern i get rung. i think something similar could be easy to implement and not rely on my hard pressed GP to spot out of thousands of contacts per day.


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Some preconditions

timbenson 117 weeks ago

Two preconditions for successful promulgation of apps are: (1) trusted identity management, across the whole web of care, both within and beyond the NHS perimeter; (2) consent management enabling patients (and others) to specify who can have access to what about whom. These two services are logically distinct from each other and also from the information source apps and the information user apps. The Government Digital Service seems to be saying a lot of the right things: digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/


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I agree

AdeByrne 117 weeks ago

The headline of this article encapsulates the nightmare scenario exactly. Hundreds of uncontrolled apps with hundreds of user ids and data everywhere totally disconnected.

The government gateway might well resolve this but will it be too late? For something that is working right now take a look at healthvault. I for one cannot understand why Microsoft are doing such a poor job of marketing this platform.


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Community cloud?

CertaCitrus 117 weeks ago

I agree we will see more apps and a cloud service to collate the data. I wonder how this cloud service should manifest? A patient portal, possibly based on a vendor neutral architecture, allowing feeds from apps, resd/write access from hospices, funded by data needs of gps or community health.


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