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‘Inadequate internet speeds’ have held back GPs from providing efficient care

Problems with IT, including ‘inadequate internet speeds’, have prevented GPs from providing efficient and effective patient care, a new report from Deloitte has found.

The report from the consultancy firm found there was insufficient funding to make the necessary digital changes in primary care.

The authors reported that infrastructure issues such as internet speeds, a lack of data sharing and a lack of incentives to invest in digitalisation have made it harder for GPs to provide efficient and effective patient care.

The report’s authors analysed responses from 1,500 doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, interviews with 65 senior stakeholders working across the industry and extensive literature reviews and data. 

They found that the lack of investment in new technologies has held back digitalisation in general practice.

The report said: ‘Primary care funding methods mean that GPs have lacked the financial incentives to invest in the digital technologies that the long-term plan identifies as some of the basic technologies needed for the digital transformation of primary care.

‘Furthermore, our interviewees identified that key barriers are the lack of interoperability between primary and secondary care systems and the resistance of GPs to sharing data.’

The report added: ‘Interviewees commented that problems with the infrastructure in primary care include inadequate internet speeds and an overall lack of data sharing and incentives to invest in digitalisation as a barrier to transformation.

‘The prevailing view is that the current NHS IT market, with just two main providers, has impeded digitalisation by creating long-term contracts which have failed to incentivise GP practices to innovate.’

Deloitte partner and head Sara Siegel said: ‘In 2019, digital transformation lags well behind where it needs to be if healthcare is to remain sustainable and affordable. Accelerating digital transformation will require a radical shift in the culture and mind-set of healthcare leaders. The variable state of IT infrastructure and difference in rates of adoption of technologies requires more sustained management and investment to accelerate and improve the uptake of technologies’.

This comes after NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens claimed last week that the greater use of technology to deliver GP services will encourage part-time GPs to take on extra services, which will help mitigate the effects of the ‘inverse care law’.

As part of the long-term plan, new technologies will be at the heart of the NHS to improve care delivery, both for staff and patients.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced in May a new £150m package to improve IT resilience  over the next three years.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Social Care launched the procurement process for providers of new GP IT systems, which promised to open up competition and ensure more systems were available that were suited to ‘the digital age’. 

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