12 February 2018

Seven wishes for GP software

KnowCents Technology

There’s a Dutch theory called “De wet van de remmende voorsprong” which, according to Wikipedia, translates as “The law of the handicap of a head start”.

The theory suggests that an initial head start by an individual, group or company often results in stagnation due to lack of competition or growth stimuli. This may eventually lead to losing pole position.

General practice was one of the first fully digitalised, more or less paperless, medical disciplines in Australia. The question is, are GP software packages keeping up with the times or is the profession at risk of falling behind and being overtaking by others?

Good job

Overall I am satisfied with the desktop software I use to look after my patients. It does the basics very well such as recording patient demographics and medical history, medication management, printing scripts and investigation referrals.

It also checks if medications agree with each other and if the patient happens to be allergic to a new pill I am about to prescribe.

Are GP desktop software vendors holding general practice back?

But compared to, let’s say, 10 years ago there haven’t been any breakthrough innovations. Sure, we can now check the national My Health Record and upload a shared health summary, but there’s also a lot to wish for.

We’re still relying on the good old fax machine and over the years I have seen more and more third-party software solutions appear on our system to perform tasks the desktop software can’t. Occasionally these packages clash with each other or slow the practice system down.

The wish list

Here’s a list of seven basic things that should be included in all GP desktop software. I believe it would improve patient care and satisfaction.

  1. I’d love to have the option to communicate securely with patients and other providers, asynchronously or via video link.
  2. Our patients should be able to send digital health data or electronic script requests via a secure connection.
  3. An online appointments booking system.
  4. GPs should be able to send scripts electronically to the pharmacy.
  5. It would be really nice if the software would help us to write (and send) smart electronic referrals by automatically inserting the data required by the specialty or provider we are referring our patients to.
  6. Decision support tools offer benefits such as increased diagnostic accuracy and a reduction of unnecessary tests.
  7. We also need integrated data analysis and data cleansing tools to help improve the quality of general practice data, so it can be better used for in-practice quality improvement processes.

What’s on your wish list?

Something to say?

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2 Comments on "Seven wishes for GP software"

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steve hambleton
steve hambleton
1 year 11 days ago

How about a simple way to add clinical photographs to the clinical record

Oliver Frank
Oliver Frank
1 year 11 days ago
My 23 articles published by Medical Observer since November 2015 outline my wishes: Oliver Frank. Address books need to reflect the reality of current practice. Medical Observer. 3 Nov 2015. (This article proposed that the address books of GPs’ clinical software packages should recognise that most health professionals practise in groups.) Oliver Frank. Prompts would help GPs keep track of patient changes. Medical Observer. 28 Jan 2016. (This article proposed that GPs’ clinical software packages should prompt GPs and their staff at specified intervals to confirm or else update patients’ contact and demographic details.) Oliver Frank. How to improve the… Read more »