Computer-generated 'fit notes' are being rolled out to GPs by clinical systems suppliers from this month, starting with EMIS practices.
At the moment, medical certificates have to be hand written by GPs. However, following a successful trial, EMIS is rolling out electronic medical certificate software across all three of its systems – EMIS Web, PCS and LV.
This will allow GPs to automatically generate, record and print Med3 certificates for patients.
The rollout of eMed3 was scheduled to start with EMIS LV users yesterday, and the full roll-out will take place over the next two months.
The forms will be pre-populated with patient details and eventually provide anonymised sickness certification activity data to the Department of Work and Pensions, in a format agreed by the British Medical Association and the joint GP IT committees.
EMIS Group chief executive Sean Riddell commented: “We believe this new software will prove popular with GPs because of the potential to save time and improve the quality and accuracy of record keeping in this area.”
The software will include a default to import the problem title from within a consultation as the ‘suggested’ condition necessitating the fit note, inclusion of likely default dates, and prompts to add text for situations in which patients “may be fit for work.”
Microtest is also planning to start rolling out electronic Med3 forms from September for its Evolution customers.
Microtest managing director Chris Netherton said eMed3 will “shortly become an integrated part of Microtest clinical systems.”
“We have completed development of the software, are expecting to roll-out to first of type sites during early September, and then roll-out to all practices during early October,” he said.
A TPP spokesperson said the company is looking into developing eMed3, but does not have a timescale for when this will be completed.
CSC plans to roll out eMed3 to its GP customers this year and INPS also plans to make fit notes available online by the end of the year, following a pilot in October.
In June 2009, the government estimated that new computer generated fit notes could save GPs more than £100m over the following ten years.
BCS Primary Healthcare Specialist Group chair Roz Foad said the introduction of electronic Med3 forms has been long awaited and will help to cut down on staff and doctor time necessary to produce them by hand.
However, she said there is still work to be done on the systems and the cost of the paper and printing has not been sorted out.
“The Med3 paper version was supplied in pads at no expense to GPs,” said Foad.
“The request to arrange for them to print out on script paper, also supplied to them free, has not been acknowledged and there will be a reluctance to have to start paying to produce them.”
© 2012 EHealth Media.
Register: To add a comment you must be registered.