Health Technologies

NHSE shares update around new GP Connect Update Record functionality – htn

Dr Amanda Doyle, NHS England national director for primary care and community services, has written to GPs and practice managers to clarify information around enhancements to the GP Connect Update Record.

The letter references the new enhancement to GP Connect functionality enabling information from secondary and community care, such as pharmacy first, blood pressure or contraception services to surface directly into GP practice clinical systems and practice workflows, rather than being sent to practices via NHS Mail. Doyle writes that the new functionality is a “significant enhancement to existing processes,” as practices will be able to view consultation outcomes along with any issued medications directly in their workflows rather than having to manually reconcile information. They will be able to check the information in the workflow and accept with one click.

The British Medical Association (BMA) provided further insight into the update here, explaining that the new feature allows a coded record to be sent to the GP via a MESH (message exchange for social care and health) transfer for automatic or manual ingestion.

Whilst the BMA agreed that the enhancement is”undoubtedly an improvement” to archiving of images containing clinical information, last week the organisation cautioned against “new issues coming to light with the direction of travel of NHS England and the responsibilities that lie with the GPs as data controllers to deal with the potential influx of data”. The BMA also raised concerns around the way that it is not always easy, within a clinical system, to see which coded treatments have been started by which external organisation and for which patient, which the BMA called an “important issue when considering prescribed treatments that at a first glance may look indistinguishable from those started by members of the practice team.”

The letter from Doyle addresses some of these concerns, stating that every practice will have a choice regarding how the GP IT system is configured, as they will be able to utilise the new enhancement if they wish or they can choose to manually transcribe from email messages. Additionally, she clarifies that the functionality will not be used to send clinically urgent, safeguarding or time-sensitive information; existing methods will continue to be used for these situations.

The BMA has noted that acceptance of the GP Connect Update Record functionality is not mandated, and said: “Practices struggling with workload and capacity are advised to consider switching off the Update Record functionality to support the BMA’s safe working guidance, given the additional workload involved, not to mention the current level of code maturity.” However, if practices are “content with the direction of travel”, then they are advised that there is no need to take action.

“NHS England may then lock in your settings by removing the option to turn off GP Connect Update Record at some future date,” the BMA states, adding that EMIS and TPP have “already been instructed by NHS England to do this at the start of July 2024.”

Doyle concludes the letter with recognition for “how hard general practice and GPs are working to deal with an unprecedented demand for appointments in challenging circumstances”, and states that this enhancement “is just one of a range of clinically safe improvements NHS England is making with suppliers, to better help practices manage demand and capacity and continue to provide high quality care.”

The BMA sets out instructions for practices wishing to pause GP Connect Update Record here.

Primary care in focus

In June, HTN explored statistics released by NHSE to identify how the number of online/video GP appointments has changed between April 2023 and April 2024.

In May, we interviewed Helen Atherton, professor in primary care research at the University of Southampton, to talk about her research findings and insights into digital in primary care.

May also saw us examine another letter from Dr Amanda Doyle and Ed Garratt, chief executive of NHS Suffolk and North Essex ICB to integrated care boards, in which they proposed plans to test new ways of working to ‘optimise the general practice operating model’ across urgent and proactive care services and further deliver on the Fuller Stocktake vision.

And earlier in the year, we hosted a virtual panel discussion on digital primary care in which our panellists chatted through projects they have been involved with in this space, challenges, the role of innovation in primary care and more.



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