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EMIS is working under pressure to ensure GPs can consult people from home

EMIS, the IT system used by half of GP practices, is working under increased pressure to rectify problems with its Egton service division. 

Pulse understands that the EMIS Anywhere product, that is supported by Egton, has been down 18 March for new activations, but continued to take new orders despite struggling to cope with demand.

Multiple GPs have also voiced concerns that its helpline closed earlier this week, on the back of a high volume of inquiries. However, EMIS denied that it had not gone down. 

EMIS Web has been functioning as normal, but Egton brings an additional issue to the coronavirus pandemic, whilst many GPs are having to work remotely due to self-isolation or illness of their own. 

Dr Mike Smith, a GP partner in St Albans, told Pulse: ‘At a time where the general practice community needs them most, Egton have shut down all communications and appear to not have a clue how they are going to meet this demand. They need a solution today.’

Similarly, East London GP Dr Kamilla Kamaruddin explained: ‘Lots of issues about EMIS/Egton. I received three laptops from my CCG last Thursday, and they have been sitting idle for more than a week, as I can’t get them configured. 

‘My three GPs in isolation are unable to work remotely.

‘When I called the helpline, I was told they were either out of service or working on it. They replied to my emails with a case number, but then closed the case without even trying to provide a solution.

‘Our digital lead in our CCG and Tower Hamlets GP Care Group is trying hard to help me, but with no success. Egton have never invested in general practice, and this crisis just shows how inefficient and chaotic they can be.’

It is believed that Egton’s support team informed GP practices on Monday 23 March that they had taken 40,000 orders for the remote working solution EMIS Connect, from CCGs nationwide. 

A spokesperson for EMIS Health said: ‘EMIS Health’s priority at the current time is to help the NHS and healthcare professionals fight the coronavirus pandemic. Our EMIS Anywhere remote desktop product has seen a ten-fold increase in demand in recent days; this has temporarily affected availability.

‘We have worked around the clock to significantly scale our capacity to provide this product to meet this exponential surge in demand. We are fixing issues with urgent priority and the remaining issues will be resolved as soon as possible.

‘Our experience is in line with many other technology service providers and we would stress that we are doing our utmost to help customers in these challenging times.

‘Our helpline number has been fully operational throughout but we are asking customers to use Live Chat as the quickest way to contact us.’

Egton markets itself as providing ‘efficiency led digital solutions to help you deliver new working practices all whilst streamlining processes and procedures’.

Earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, EMIS Health offered to provide 4,000 free consultations to practices.

It also experienced a nationwide crash in February.