The tool, launched by Diabetes UK in association with the major GP IT systems, is designed to allow GPs to easily provide patients with tailored resources to help them better self-manage their condition.
Nearly two thirds of diabetes patients do not have their condition adequately under control, and many have a poor understanding of the disease.
With the new tool installed, whenever a GP sees a diabetes patient who is not meeting their targets for blood pressure, cholesterol or blood glucose, an alert will flash up on their computer, recommending they give the patient an ‘information prescription’.
Information prescriptions consist of one-page documents that provide tailored advice on how patients can make changes to better manage their condition. These can be printed out for the patient to take away with them.
Personal action plan
GPs are recommended to run through the advice with the patient to help them devise a personal action plan.
This could include showing them how they could supplement their medication with lifestyle and behavioural changes, for example through joining local weight-loss or walking clubs.
Just a third (36%) of people with diabetes currently meet all three of their NICE targets for blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood glucose. Research has repeatedly linked poor control in any of these factors to some serious health complications, which can lead to blindness and kidney failure.
GP Dr Stephen Lawrence, diabetes lead for the RCGP and primary care medical advisor for Diabetes UK, said: ‘Information prescriptions put patients in the driving seat and that is the key to driving successful behaviour change. It is an invaluable tool that GPs and healthcare teams can easily incorporate during routine care.
‘Having piloted it I know that it works and the feedback I’ve had from patients is that they feel more in control and like having clear goals set out to help them improve their health. This is a revolutionary step in diabetes care.’
GPC deputy Dr Richard Vautrey welcomed the addition, but warned that the tool’s health benefits were not guaranteed.
He said: ‘We should not underestimate how difficult it can be for many patients to put good intentions into practise, even with active support and encouragement of health professionals.’
The information prescriptions tool will roll out on EMIS Web systems from Tuesday, with Vision and SystmOne expected to follow shortly.