How often do GPs use rapid computer access to laboratory results? A description of 18 months’ use by 72 practices in Tayside

Deborah Clark, Wynne Carter, Frank Sullivan


This paper describes the uptake and usage by a group of general medical practices in Tayside, Scotland of a novel system designed to give rapid access to laboratory results in primary care.
The speed of access to laboratory results from primary care is one factor that determines how laboratory results are both requested and used. Without easy and timely access to laboratory results, general practitioners (GPs) are not able to make the most efficient use of laboratory tests, and this therefore impinges on whether those tests are requested. Fountain was designed to provide a front end for GPs to gain rapid and easy access to laboratory results in a manner familiar to them. It was initially made available in primary care in the region to 72 practices, with 272 GP desktops having immediate access to results when they are ready.
The pattern of use and uptake was monitored remotely after the system was introduced, and the first 18 months of use are described here. Initial use varied widely between practices with rates of access varying from 160 hits per 1000 population to none at all.However, the access rate gradually conformed to a more standard rate of around 20 hits per 1000 population per month, regardless of the initial rate of use.
This pattern conforms to that describing the introduction of new technologies in other settings. Continued use in practice and the concordance of usage between practices confirms that rapid and reliable access to laboratory reports from primary care is both useful and used.


clinical laboratory information systems; medical informatics; primary care

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