GPs have reported an ‘embarrassing’ IT software supplier failure that left practices in North East London – covering a patient population of two million – unable to print off pathology forms for hours.
On Wednesday, EMIS appeared to have failed to renew a subscription to the software that connects tQuest – a pathology order system that is linked through clinical system EMIS Web – with the printers.
EMIS has since rectified the problem, but it took the software supplier ‘two to three’ hours to do so.
Dr Shahid Dadabhoy, a GP partner in Chingford, East London, tried to print off blood test forms on Wednesday morning, but a pop-up window appeared saying that EMIS’s subscription had expired.
‘For two to three hours, we weren’t able to print off blood test forms as someone had goofed and not kept up with the subscriptions,’ he said. ‘For a company the size of EMIS, that is embarrassing.’
As printing off pathology forms is a ‘basic function’, Dr Dadabhoy said he was ‘worried’ that the problem could have been indicative of a more serious IT outage.
He said: ‘It’s not sometimes the outage time, it’s the uncertainty – and we just can’t deal with uncertainty. How long is this going to go on for? Are they going to fix it?
‘The other problem is that you don’t know the scale of these problems, and nobody tells you. So, you don’t know if it’s just your practice. In this case, it turned out to be a quarter of London.’
A spokesperson for EMIS said: ‘An issue impacting one local area and a small number of tQuest users printing pathology forms this morning was resolved by 11am.
‘A work around was available in the meantime, using the local Windows print service.’
This comes at a time when practices all over the country – particularly those using EMIS Web – are dealing with frequent IT faults that can sometimes last for days.
Statistics from Pulse’s latest survey show that practices experience an average of almost two IT outages a month.