The wide variation in how electronic medical records (EMRs) are used around the UK is amping up GPs’ stress levels and affecting the coordination of patient care, health experts revealed.
The report, Under Pressure, analyses what the Commonwealth Fund’s 2015 international survey of general practitioners means for the UK.
In the 2012 Commonwealth Fund survey, 46% of UK GPs felt that the system worked well and only minor changes were needed. By 2015 this had collapsed to 22%, the biggest decline of any of the countries featured in the survey, and only higher than the US and Sweden.
While the UK is “an international leader when it comes to availability and use of EMRs,” the report admits, there is a wide variation in how they are used. For example, 91% of GPs in England order laboratory tests electronically, compared to just 31% in Wales.
The solution is to identify the reasons for this variation, as previous research is “sparse”, looking at technical problems, changes to routine work practices and overcoming fears of weakened interpersonal communication.
However, “above all, the survey highlights the interrelated nature of the challenges facing GPs,” the report states. “To excel internationally, the UK urgently needs strategies, which take into account and seek to address the multiple interwoven factors at work in primary care.”
These four interwoven factors are short appointments, external bureaucracy, variation in EMR use, and poor coordination with community services, it stated.