A robust and joined-up IT system across the NHS needs to be prioritised before a technological 'revolution' in patient care can truly happen, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) says in its new 'tech manifesto'.
The manifesto says a “system change” is needed to ensure the opportunities provided by advances in healthcare technology are implemented safely and sustainably. It calls for the regulation and review of healthcare technology to "be underpinned by a strong set of ethical principles” and adds that healthcare professionals must be involved in the process.
“General practice needs technology which enables safe patient care fit for the 21st century, makes the lives of GPs and their teams easier, and does not line the pockets of private investors at the expense of the NHS,” the document states.
The RCGP wants all GP practices to have modern, digitally-enabled premises with fully interoperable IT systems, with access to secure high-speed broadband facilities, and access to a single shared electronic patient record which documents patient interactions throughout the NHS.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP Chair, said: "GPs have always embraced new technology. General practice was the first NHS sector to have electronic prescribing and electronic patient records so we know how beneficial new technology can be and we recognise its huge potential to help our patients.
"GPs want the latest, cutting-edge tech at our disposal but we need the basics to work first. That means everything from making sure that our computers don't crash while issuing a prescription, to making sure our systems talk to those in all hospitals so that we can improve the care and experience that our patients receive throughout the NHS,” she said.