Does IT ‘cut the mustard’ in primary care?

Roger Roycroft


Background General practice faces something of a computer revolution with the appointment of new regional suppliers and the prospect of new and as yet untried systems being imposed upon it in the next few years.
Objective To investigate the current use, acceptance of, and the real potential of information technology in the 23 general practices in one primary care trust.
Method Personal interview with the manager of computing in each practice.
Results Apart from their perceived advantages in the clarity of records and help with prescribing, the use of computers has tended to follow demand from above for the provision of data. Very few practices have a strong attraction to the use of computers as a flexible tool and the ancillary staff that manage the systems are overworked, unsupported in most cases, and generally not well served by their system suppliers. Innovation tends to be tolerated rather than welcomed since the advantages to patients and daily users are seldom promoted.
Conclusion Despite the piecemeal way that computing was introduced into primary care it has achieved great success in the absence of significant external support and shows no sign, overall, of being helped by the new information technology (IT) strategy in the NHS as it applies to that sector.


practice computer systems; primary care IT; systems training

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