Colin Beveridge, a chartered fellow of the British Computer Society, has written about the problems he has had since his GP practice replaced EMIS for other systems which are favoured under the NHS’s £12.7bn National Programme for IT.
He said his practice had been using a EMIS website for several years but was obligated to migrate to the new system. When the old system was withdrawn, there no online service for patients who were already registered, for example to receive repeat medication.
“It took about six weeks to implement the new system. All previous patient registrations for the EMIS system were null and void. Patients have to register for the new system. I collected my new registration letter, replete with username and initial password. The standard registration letter, however, omits a key piece of information: the URL of the GP website is blank.
“A quick telephone call to the surgery requesting the website address elicited the response: ‘what do you mean?’ I explained that I needed the website address to complete my registration. The receptionist put me on hold and then advised me ‘to search on the web for the surgery name’. I pointed out that this was most unlikely to give me the proper address and that there is clearly a fault in the configuration of the software. I am now awaiting a call from the surgery manager so that I can explain to him what is wrong with his system.”
Colin Beveridge’s conclusions:
– The cut-over from existing online service to the new system was far from seamless
– The quality of implementation was suspect – the surgery name was likely to be a simple but fundamental configuration element
– The training of the GP surgery staff was inadequate, if two receptionists in consultation could not recite the surgery website address
He added: “Now I clearly remember a certain [health official] stating that the time over-runs in NPfIT were not a problem because they would be able to shorten the training time provision. Clearly the training is inadequate, for implementation staff and users.”
NPfIT – a project runaway? – US-based government health IT publication