Dr Chris Mimnagh: General practice needs to embrace the potential of IT

The potential for IT in primary care is still, for the most part, untapped, says Dr Chris Mimnagh.

Anybody that reads the stuff I write will know I’m pro change and pro tech. Until recently I did wonder if all the tools were present to enable general practice to transform sufficiently to become the bedrock of the 21st centrury NHS that I desperately want to see care for me and my children.

I’ve just had a couple of days at the EMIS user group conference and I can tell you that William Gibson was right – the future is here. It’s just unevenly distributed.

I’ve chatted to companies that will plug in to any practice system and give you data, support, systematisation, personalisation, communication, expansion and probably frustration.

I’ve spoken to some GPs who are using these tools, others who want them, nobody who didn’t – not surprising really, luddites don’t go to IT-based conferences.

I’ve talked money with suppliers whose products range from £700 per year to £7,000 a month, even some whose motivation is not measured in pound signs.

So what did I walk away with, apart from a set of business cards?

My biggest take away was a sense of the potential that exists in our IT systems, a potential which is still for the most part untapped.

Unfortunately given that 46% of the population will have checked their bank balance online in the last week and only 17% will have used online services to contact their GP, this is a potential which most other aspects of our daily lives have already made a reality.

We really need to embrace our potential, before the public perceives us as failing the NHS. 

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP in Liverpool and co-director of clinical strategy at the NHS partnership organisation Liverpool Health Partners

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