Smart Technology must be at the heart of any GP efficiency drive

From PKB’s CEO, Dr. Mohammad Al-Ubaydli,

[I]t’s not a case of asking already hard working GPs to work even longer, it’s a case of looking at how the whole of the NHS can work smarter – using the latest innovations in healthcare that are already available. Patients deserve it, GPs deserve it and we will all benefit as a result.

In the recent post on, Dr. Mohammad Al-Ubaydli is making the case that the answer to the challenge for GPs to work efficiently with all NHS institutions is to embrace new innovations that are helping reduce A&E visits, providing healthcare data between hospital visits and working with patients to help them look after themselves.

The entire blog is well worth reading below.


By Dr. Mohammad Al-Ubadyli and posted on

If GP surgeries are to open twelve hours a day, seven days a week, digital healthcare innovation must be embraced by the whole of the NHS to ease the strain on our already over-worked GPs.

GPs have long been at the forefront of digital in the NHS. The first GP in the UK to use an electronic medical records system was also the first GP in the world to do so – back in 1975. NHS GP spending is 6-8% of the government’s healthcare budget, but GPs maintain digital records on 100% of their patients – more than any other NHS organisation. These records form the backbone of the NHS – GPs are the ones who know the patients and they’re the ones who everyone else relies upon.

Today, the challenge is for GPs to work efficiently with all the other institutions helping NHS patients. Patients are treated or cared for by an ever-increasing range of healthcare providers, including hospitals, local councils, third sector or private sector providers and of course the patient themselves. Patients with long-term conditions can self-assess and self-manage, they are providers of information and care. The only way to work with all of them is using innovative technologies and services. However, the whole of the NHS must embrace these new innovations if GPs are to deliver the care patients deserve – and politicians expect.

For example, it’s now easier than ever for GPs to collect clinically accurate data from the patient whilst the patient is at home – avoiding a visit to the surgery. Apps like uMotif enable doctors to collect routine patient data on a range of long-term conditions like Diabetes, Hypertension and Asthma. Where once, patients with Parkinson’s Disease would have to be examined in person to assess their response to medications, tapping the screen on a phone can provide the assessments more frequently and more conveniently. This is why Cure Parkinson’s highlighted UMotif’s smartphone app.

Technology can keep the patient at home rather than needing to visit A&E. The South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) is pioneering a new system which gives their own ambulance crews access to a patient’s GP care plan before they reach the scene of an emergency. Armed with the right information – which might give details of the patient’s condition and what the normal protocols for treatment are – ambulance staff are better equipped to treat a patient at the scene of an emergency.

When this happens, the patient wins as they receive more immediate care and might not need to be admitted to A&E. The GP wins because they don’t need to be consulted and called into the hospital, and the NHS wins because it saves huge costs involved with unplanned A&E admissions. Secamb have reduced trips by ambulance to A&E from 67% to just 40% of incidents that start as a home visit.

Lastly, new innovative services are making sure that patients are learning how to look after themselves better. Clinicians and GPs are experts in medicine – not teachers of behaviour change. But most NHS spending goes to treating patients with long term conditions – those most at need of making a change to their behaviour: diet, exercise, taking the right pills, stopping taking harmful substances.

This is why GPs now “prescribe” Know Your Own Health (KYOH) to patients alongside a course of drug treatments. A KYOH health coach develops a care plan with (that’s “with” not “for”) the patient and helps them stick to the plan. The platform also offers online and offline, peer-to-peer support around mutual goals in local communities. Often, people manage their condition by learning from others and feeling accountable to a group of their peers who share the same goal. It is services like this which not only help the patient manage their condition, but ensure that routine visits to the GP are cut and emergency visits to A&E are minimised.

So for me, it’s not a case of asking already hard working GPs to work even longer, it’s a case of looking at how the whole of the NHS can work smarter – using the latest innovations in healthcare that are already available. Patients deserve it, GPs deserve it and we will all benefit as a result.

Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli is founder and CEO of Patients Know Best. Dr Al-Ubaydli trained as a physician at the University of Cambridge and is the author of seven books on IT and healthcare. He is an honorary senior research associate at UCL medical school for his research on patient-controlled medical records and in 2012, was elected an Ashoka Fellow as a social entrepreneur for the contributions he has made to patient care.

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