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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.’