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The 2022 GP

In May the Royal College of General Practitioners published a policy document titled A Vision for General Practice in the future NHS in which the college outlined its prediction for the future of General Practice.

From reading the document it’s clear the only certainty for GPs is that we will have to change and adapt even more in order to maintain a key role within the NHS in the future.  The paper outlines twelve key aspirations for the GP of 2022 ranging from being an expert generalist physician to being both a gatekeeper and a navigator for specialist services.  Central to all twelve areas is the need to maintain our skills, offer continuity of high quality health care both proactively as disease prevention and reactively to ill health and to remain the patients advocate.

It will not be possible to fulfil all these roles without easily accessible information and technology resources that are fit for purpose and available to everyone involved in the patient’s care both in primary and secondary care.

Which brings me onto the wholly inadequate resources we have to use on a day-to-day basis now in 2013, and the never ending battle to try and get even a small part to do what you actually want it to do.

Since my practice moved from EMIS LV to SystemOne I can see now why other local practices kept accusing us of dragging our feet as it most definitely is a better system for keeping patient records that can be shared with other health professionals (provided they use the same system of course).  I can’t comment about EMIS Web as I don’t know that much about it.

But even with SystemOne there are annoying issues which cause nothing but frustration on a daily basis.  These issues aren’t damaging to patients but they do cause enormous frustration to me as a GP, for example not being able to print out an eMED3 in SystemOne which I used to be able to do in EMIS.  Problems like this are an example of where the needs of the clinicians using the system have not been given the highest priority.  I’ve always had a strong conviction the computer in the consulting room should be used as a tool to augment my role as a GP rather than just a data collection and prescription printing machine.

That’s just the software problems.  Don’t get me started on the hardware, but when my local IT Department insists I still have to use a ten year old PC that takes ages to start up every morning and is slow to do even simple tasks, like check a diagnosis on Google, I think one day I actually will punch the monitor.

If the RCGP vision of what general practice could be like in 2022 is to come true then a lot of IT bods are going to have to get their collective acts together because until they do, and our systems actually do what we need them to do, and different systems are truly interoperable, then this brave vision of general practice in 2022 will not happen.  And it won’t be our fault.