GP practices free up 3,000 extra patient appointments through Primary Care Network

GP practices in Luton have worked together to provide more than 3,000 extra appointments a year including halving the number of appointments lost due to patient non-attendance | via NHS England

As well as freeing up appointments, the Primary Care Network (PCNs) model has led to friends and family satisfaction with services being positive nine times out of ten, while complaints have fallen by 12 per cent and £50,000 has been saved.

To achieve this, the GPs made a number of changes including altering the types of healthcare professionals in the practice, offering alternative appointments where appropriate and introducing long term conditions clinics.

PCNs are one of the new national approaches unveiled in the NHS’ long term plan this week. In Luton’s PCN, groups of GP practices pool their skills and resources to provide patients with access to more health professionals including GPs, pharmacists, paramedics, physicians associates and specialist doctors.

They can treat patients for a wide range of illnesses, ensuring they see the right person from the start and freeing up the GPs to spend more time with patients who have complex needs.

Full story at NHS England

High-performance medicine: the convergence of human and artificial intelligence

Topol, E.J. | 2019| High-performance medicine: the convergence of human and artificial intelligence| Nature Medicine | 25| P.44–56|

A review article from Eric Topol, published in Nature Medicine, considers high-performance medicine. For Topol the impact of artifical intelligence (AI) is at three levels: for clinicians (Radiology, Opthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Gastroenterology); AI and health systems; AI and patients; AI and data analysis. The review also considers some of the limitations and challenges surrounding bias, privacy and security, and lack of transparency , before concluding with discussion of some future considerations. 



The use of artificial intelligence, and the deep-learning subtype in particular, has been enabled by the use of labeled big data, along with markedly enhanced computing power and cloud storage, across all sectors. In medicine, this is beginning to have an impact at three levels: for clinicians, predominantly via rapid, accurate image interpretation; for health systems, by improving workflow and the potential for reducing medical errors; and for patients, by enabling them to process their own data to promote health. The current limitations, including bias, privacy and security, and lack of transparency, along with the future directions of these applications will be discussed in this article. Over time, marked improvements in accuracy, productivity, and workflow will likely be actualized, but whether that will be used to improve the patient–doctor relationship or facilitate its erosion remains to be seen.

Read the full review from Nature

How virtual reality is changing medical practice: “Doctors want to use this to give better patient outcomes”

BMJ | January 2019| How virtual reality is changing medical practice: “Doctors want to use this to give better patient outcomes”

A new feature in the BMJ describes how technology is having an impact on areas such as perioperative planning, medical training, psychiatry and palliative care and specifically how virtual reality is changing medical practice. 

Read the full piece at the BMJ 

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GP IT Futures framework announced

IT systems in GP practices will be replaced with modern technology under widespread changes announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary | via Department of Health and Social Care

The GP IT Futures framework will create an open, competitive market to encourage the best technology companies to invest in the NHS. All systems will be required to meet minimum standards to ensure they can talk to each other across boundaries.

The current market is dominated by 2 main providers, which slows down innovation and traps GP practices in long-term contracts with systems that are not suited to the digital age.

The framework will look at how patient data will be moved to modern cloud services to allow clinicians and patients to securely access crucial, life-saving information in real time. imac-1999636_1920

By 2023 to 2024 the Department of Health and Social Care want every patient in England to be able to access GP services digitally, with practices able to offer online or video consultations.

The changes will free up staff time and reduce delays by allowing seamless, digitised flows of information between GP practices, hospitals and social care settings. It builds on Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock’s tech vision for the NHS.

The new standards, developed by NHS Digital, will introduce minimum technical requirements so systems can talk to each other securely and are continuously upgradable.

Any system that does not meet these standards will not be used by the NHS and the government will look to end contracts with providers that do not understand these principles for the health and care sector.

Full story: Matt Hancock: shake-up of GP IT will remove outdated systems