Practices face uncertainty over IT systems

Hundreds of GP practices previously denied funding for IT upgrades face uncertainty after a leading supplier announced plans to phase out older versions of its practice computer system within a year.

IT: practices on older systems face uncertainty
IT: practices on older systems face uncertainty

IT supplier EMIS plans to cease further development on older versions of its practice system and withdraw them entirely by April 2015, warning they will be unable to comply with NHS requirements.

However, the move could leave practices that rely on these systems in a difficult position. Practices that wish to continue to use EMIS systems will need to upgrade to its EMIS Web product - but the company says some have previously been denied funding for upgrades.

Around 10% of the 4,364 practices in England that use EMIS IT systems use the LV or PCS models of its software - which will be phased out from next year.

The decision follows requirements laid out by NHS England under the GP systems of choice (GPSoC) framework, which EMIS claims ‘go beyond’ the capabilities of the older systems.

It said: ‘EMIS LV and PCS will continue to offer current functionality. However, new requirements such as enhanced national services, for example GP2GP, will not be developed beyond their current levels in LV and PCS.

‘The new GPSoC contract requires the development of a considerable amount of new functionality to support the future needs of GP computing. These enhanced requirements go beyond what EMIS LV and PCS currently offer and, following a comprehensive review, we have concluded that neither system can be developed to meet them.’

EMIS Web is a cloud-based system, meaning GPs must connect via the internet to remote servers to access patient data.

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