Since 1989 the practice has had a computer. Originally this was office-based, being required to produce the mass of data required by the new GP Contract of 1990. GPs needed to have accurate records of childhood vaccinations, of cervical smears, and information on blood pressures and other health data.
Once the practice decided to go fundholding in 1993 the system was extended with PCs in the consulting and treatment rooms.
The company providing both hardware and software is called EMIS Web.
The various tasks of the medical system are:
- to maintain accurate registration patient details (name, address, tel no, date of birth, registered doctor)
- to record medical symptoms, examinations and diagnoses
- to record health promotion data (blood pressure, weight, smoking, family history)
- to record dates of vaccinations/smears to enable recalls
- to record summaries of major medical problems and referrals to specialists
- to issue acute and repeat prescriptions, recording all such transactions
- to audit clinical performance
The power of the computer enables the practice to search on variables, such as all those patients within the age range 45 to 65 who have had an elevated blood pressure in the last year, or a simple task like how many patients live in Elmgrove Road.
The computer has made for a much more efficient practice where we can target our activities to benefit patients.
In September 1997 a new Windows-based system was installed, called VISION. In September of that year computerised appointments were made for the first time. Now appointments are made or reviewed from any terminal in the building. The colour-coded screen tells at a glance when a patient arrives, when a consultation starts and then finishes. The doctor can 'see' who is in the waiting room, and how long patients are waiting (not too long we hope!). The VISION medical system went 'live' in October 1997, with access to updated drug encyclopaedias, medical reference literature on CD Rom. In August 2002, VISION 3 was installed, with a more sophisticated way of organising data and the ability to store other attached files to patient records, such as images (of skin problems for example), ECGs, and document files.
We have a Cardioview ECG machine which transmits an electronic cardiograph image on to the computer, and we are also able to photograph images, of, say a mole, with the patient's consent.
The practice is essentially 'paperlight' and all recording of information is made on the computer rather than on the old card format. This enables a fast and accurate retrieval of information which can be viewed in appropriate ways, and printed off for hospital referrals, for visits to patients, for insurance reports etc.
The practice now has links with the Pathology Department at Frimley Park Hospital to electronically download results to our own system. This occurs regularly each day, automatically filing in patients' computer records.
Correspondence is scanned into computer records, as the ever increasing notes storage is a serious problem, and some records can now be transferred between practices when they transfer.
The practice is linked to the NHS Net via a broadband connection. Such secure internet availability is useful for email, for medical research, for resourcing information, and for keeping up to date with clinical news.
In November 2015 the practice migrated to a new clinical system called EMIS Web.