Innovation is key to future of general practice, warns think tank

Healthcare 'must change dramatically' to combat funding and workload pressures, a report from think tank The King's Fund has said.

Technology is key to future of general practice (Photo: JH Lancy)
Technology is key to future of general practice (Photo: JH Lancy)

To meet rising demand, new technology needs to be embraced and the doctor-patient relationship has to evolve, the King’s Fund says.

The report showcases examples of ‘technological, clinical and organisational’ innovation, including a practice that allows its patients to access their medical records electronically.

The Haughton Thornley practice has given more than 3,000 patients remote access to their records, which one patient, Ingrid Brindle, says helps her to better manage her auto-immune condition. She no longer has to call the surgery to get information about her medications, letters, or test results.

Dr Amir Hannan, who started up the initiative, said: ‘We have got to start thinking about journeying with patients and building this partnership that was always there: the doctor-patient partnership. The digital does not take that away; in fact it strengthens it.’

Holistic approach

General practice could also benefit from a ‘holistic approach’, the report says, citing the example of the award-winning Bromley-by-Bow centre in Tower Hamlets.

The clinic offers housing, education and employment support alongside health care, and organises art and gardening projects for its patients. GPs ‘greet their patients in the waiting room and sit side by side with them at a curved desk looking at the computer together’.

‘It’s all about giving the message – this is self-care, this is yours, this is part of the community,’ said Sir Sam Everington, who set up the centre and was recently knighted for services to primary care.

The King’s Fund recognises that it has set out a ‘daunting challenge’ and that ‘much will hinge on the ability of healthcare leaders at all levels to embrace uncertainty, unpredictability and experimentation’. But such innovations ‘have the power to truly transform care’, the report says.

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