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New EMIS system will listen to and ‘interpret’ GP-patient conversations

The new EMIS-X system will use voice recognition to ‘automatically interpret’ conversations between GPs and their patients, and ‘turn them into medical codes’, EMIS said today.

The company announced a number of new developments, including that EMIS-X - a cloud-based system - will upgrade and extend EMIS Web and allow clinicians across the NHS to ‘safely’ share patient records.

GP video consultations will also soon be available through Patient Access.

In the statement released today, EMIS said that over 40m patient records will be moved to a cloud based system, meaning that ‘clinicians working in any location with any third-party technology will be able to view and share vital patient information safely and ethically’.

This update to EMIS Web, used by 56% of GPs, is in line with the new NHS Digital interoperability standards, but goes a step further by allowing selective sharing of live data, it added.

Earlier this year, NHS Digital announced it would be launching a tender for a new panel of system providers in January, with providers needing to show that they can provide record systems for 'multi-disciplinary settings'.

Voice recognition technology is also being tested in EMIS-X, which will use ‘artificial intelligence to make consultations more patient-friendly and save clinicians time’.

EMIS said that this will allow doctors ‘to concentrate fully on the patient, rather than retrieving information from the computer’.

Patients will also soon be able to book GP video consultations through Patient Access, ‘enabling remote patient management for a significant proportion of conditions’, EMIS said.

Meanwhile, a new health analytics service is being launched, meaning commissioners can view appointment capacity, and prescribing and referral patterns, to 'improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare'.

GPs welcomed the advances, and said that if they work they could be useful. However, they warned that the voice recognition technology could alter the way that GPs communicate with patients.

BMA GP Committee IT lead Dr Paul Cundy said: ‘Anything that makes consultations easier and more efficient should be welcomed… If it works it will be great.'

But, addressing voice recognition, he continued: ‘A drawback on this is that it might make doctors talk in computer friendly language to their patients, because they know that will be more accurately interpreted than normal human-to-human language.

‘It might well start influencing the way that doctors communicate, because they will be conscious that it’s not just the patient they are talking to, it’s the computer too. We need to make sure the system does not have that kind of influence.’

EMIS chief executive officer Andy Thorburn said: ‘We believe EMIS-X will help to hugely improve efficiency and patient safety, while providing dramatic cost savings to the NHS.

‘We see millions of hours currently spent by patients and staff in repeating information at each stage of the patient’s healthcare journey being eliminated.’

Readers' comments (16)

  • And before too long when there are no GPs left the patients will be able to talk directly to a computer sponsored by Hancock and co..............

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  • "..concentrate fully on the patient rather than retrieving information from the computer". Sounds great, but unless consultation times are made longer allowing the retrieval of vital information to evaluate the patient comprehensively before the patient enters the room, this is just a step towards even more superficial practise, with the focus on "feel good" bullshi~, rather than clinical medicine.

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  • TBH I am existed.

    We have all seen the 2 minute Babylon video, showing the GP console, and the words bring picked by the app and coded into the notes.

    I am really glad EMIS will soon be able to do the same.

    I think general practice is more than capable of evolving, given the right tools and resources...

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  • Can't cope up with providing basic efficient service and instead of streamlining the present chaotic daily crashes and errors,Emis wants to interpret conversations. Of course, part of the 2 billion from the government is going to them. When you can't find logic behind decisions of this government- it's all about siphoning money out of the system. These Tory cronies from rich backgrounds continue to get rich with their dubious ways at the cost of the taxpayer.

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  • Good luck with that in some parts of the country...

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  • Dear All,
    Indeed, it goes without saying but we do unfortunately have to keep on saying it, that all this is well and good but if the basic infrastructure, like bandwidth, isn't there, neither will this be there.
    Paul C

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  • Quite aside from the need to make the "basics" work properly first, and the effect on how doctors communicate - what about the effect on how patients communicate? How would this system be explained to them? I can't begin to imagine how some patients might try to manipulate this - and equally how some patients might withhold information as they perceived "big brother" was listening. Lots of things to consider before any implementation methinks.

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  • End of the line?

    @anon 11:48
    are you exited or exhausted ??
    ironic as this is what you will get with poor voice recognition and an annoying spell checker

    Voice recognition
    could be a good aid to document notes
    after the patient has left

    Video recordings
    Given the trend to Skype type consults
    a video recorded consult
    will be very useful medico legally

    More time will be required..
    As in an exam scenario

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  • I will be interested to see how the EMIS voice recognition system copes with the Scottish and Doric that’s spoken in my remote region!
    I suspect that the new system is also another way of policing us regardless of any medico-legal protection. In the not too distant future we will not be needed at all so patients are welcome to develop a meaningful relationship with the computer. If the computers get it wrong then we’ll still get the blame or could we pass the buck onto the programmers?!

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  • Perhaps we should just get the patient to talk to the computer. All we need is for the computer to write the referral letters, and do prescriptions, and the GP shortage is solved

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