GP Practice Management Systems
There has been significant investment by general practitioners in information systems over the last 20 years. As a result, over 90% of the 1,300 general practices in Ireland are computerised, using GP practice software management systems. Approximately 95% of the computerised practices use accredited software systems.
Healthcare is complex and chaotic. It involves lots of clinicians, information from different sources and rapid changes in health and illness over short time spans. Trying to manage health records on paper does not work. GPs were quick to realise this and to adopt and implement software systems to manage the clinical care of their patients.
GP Practice Software Management Systems are complex information systems that:
- Manage patient registration and demographic information;
- Record and code diseases and allergies;
- Record, track and support recall for immunisations;
- Manage medication and generate electronic prescriptions;
- Create and track electronic referrals;
- Import laboratory and radiology results into individual patient records;
- Allow analysis and audit of clinical conditions and processes;
- Provide a summary care record;
- Support the exchange of a patient’s electronic health record when they move practice;
There are four accredited GP Practice Software Systems. Three of the four systems, HealthOne, Helix Practice Manager and Socrates, are owned by Clanwilliam Investments Ltd. CompleteGP is an independent company.
A number of developments over the last 20 years have led to the strong position of information systems in general practice. These include:
- Healthlink, the National Messaging Broker, which provides interoperability between GP and Hospital systems;
- The National General Practice Information Technology (GPIT) Group, which promotes cooperation between the Health Service Executive, Department of Health and the Irish College of GPs around information systems and data exchange;
- The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) which defines the informatics standards for exchange of information;
GPs are clear that they could not care for their patients without information systems. The electronic health care record in general practice is a rich repository of information on the individual patient’s illnesses in the community and in the hospital. It is a birth to death record of health and illness that supports GPs in giving the best possible care to their patients of all ages.
Anonymous aggregation of GP records also supports the management of disease at a population level. For example, the work of the Irish Primary Care Research Network which uses anonymised data from general practice to audit the care of diabetes nationally.
For an individual attending their GP the benefits are clearly visible:
- You are only asked for your demographic details at registration with the practice;
- All your records, hospital letters, blood tests and X ray results are available to your GP during the consultation;
- You get a printed prescription that is legible;
- If you need a referral, the information can be quickly collated and printed or sent electronically;