NHS COVID-19 testing is now to be integrated with GP systems, allowing practices and patients to see results in “near real time”, it has been announced.
The data can reach 95% of practices, NHS Digital said – and the remainder would begin receiving it soon. Its success depends on being able to identify the patient’s NHS number. NHS Digital said the data would arrive in “near real time.” It uses the EMIS Health Keystone system.
Richard Ashcroft, its programme director, said: “We have worked quickly to ensure this technology can be put in place so that GPs are kept informed about coronavirus tests being undertaken by their patients, while making sure it is done simply, with as little additional admin for GP practice staff as possible. We would like to thank EMIS Health for working with us to deliver this at speed using their Keystone product.
“Many patients would regard it as a given that their test results should automatically appear in their GP medical record, but the technological work behind the scenes with a brand new system such as that delivering the testing programme is considerable.”
Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, chief medical officer at EMIS, said: “This will not only help day to day patient care, and it will also help on a wider population health level, as data-led insight relies on full and complete medical records as analysts continue to research COVID-19 and its short- and long-term impact on the nation.”
The Royal College of GPs, meanwhile, raised concerns that practices are being asked to provide exemption note for patients who say they cannot wear masks.
Chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “It is concerning to hear reports that GPs are being asked to provide exemption notes for patients. Firstly, because it isn’t currently clear what the exemption criteria is, but also, this isn’t a good use of GPs’ time when we’re on the frontline of dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19 and preparing for a potential second wave of the virus alongside expected winter pressures. We also need to see clear public messaging that wearing a mask is not an alternative to other measures, such as appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures.”