How tech is changing our GP consultations

Consultations with your GP can feel rushed. And, to make matters worse, GPs appear to spend a lot of time tapping on their computers before, during and after speaking to you. To explore and explain how GP consultations have changed over time, BCS has commissioned an infographic looking at technology in the surgery.

Do you feel technology is having a negative influence on the time you spend with your doctor?

Posted by Grant Powell on 4th Apr 2017
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Vote cast

Strongly Agree : 24 %
Agree : 18 %
Disagree : 47 %
Strongly Disagree : 12 %

Comments (9)

Daniel Philip Kelly

06 December 2017

I feel that a GP who has a good "bedside manner" can handle this transition from screen time to face time quite effectively. The use of technology in the medical field can be a major benefit to both the patient and the doctor; however the GP should explain what they are doing when looking at the screen (e.g. just checking your medical history for XYZ). The GP providing feedback to the patient in what is happening on the screen will put the patient at ease knowing that the GP is not doing other work, or worse checking emails / social media. My local GP has the policy of ensuring the screen is visible during the entire appointment to enforce this method.

Philip Kien Loon Lim

07 April 2017

The previous comments appear to be from the "patient" perspective. However, I think the answers will be bias or influenced by a number of confounding variables. This might include for example:

  1. age/experience of the GP
  2. how computer/I.T. literate the GP is
  3. the number of patients at the practice
  4. how busy is the GP (the number of appointments queued up)
  5. how complex are the needs of the patient
  6. location of the GP (service will differ between a highly populated central London area and a quiet rural location with a small patient list size)
  7. quality of the patient/GP experience
If we are asking whether the I.T. system of choice is adequate eg: TPP SystmOne, EMIS Web, InPS Vision or Microtest Evolution, then perhaps we should be asking the GP's for their feedback about this.

The NHS clearly seems to think it is getting right in this promotional video:

However, now is a good time to be asking about GP systems of choice as the current GPSoC contract ends in December 2018.

Consultations about this are ongoing at:[1]=2595141_116&cat[main]=61&format=raw

Paul Welsh

06 April 2017

Technology is now an important and integral part of the medical service, but as presently configured there are issues that need addressing. When seeing my consultants they grumble that the system isn't configured to suit their speciality. In addition I find that I now act as the gate keeper on my medical condition because there is no overall summary. Recently in good faith one doctor prescribed an antibiotic and should have told me to suspend a medication because there can be dangerous side effects. I have to keep an overall eye on what is and is not permissible because unfortunately I have several conditions that are being treated.

How information is 'filed' is important, if the key words used are not those used by a doctor accessing the files, then something important can be missed. I have encountered this with papers I have had published. When preparing the synopsis I had to use key words from a prescribed list. The list was usually inadequate or worse plain wrong, but I wasn't allowed to introduce new and appropriate ones. Anybody who is an expert in my field would use the appropriate key words and not find the paper; it is under inappropriate key words. With medical conditions that could be vital and dangerous rather than a minor nuisance.

There is also an issue with accessing files, with a paper file the consultant can quickly scan the file for items that apply to his work, electronic documents lack the markers which make looking back over past history quick, accurate and easy. There is more work to be done.

Leonard Henry Graves0

06 April 2017

Technology will and does add significantly to doctor patient consultation and outcomes when used alongside other well established and proven approaches.

Matt Whiting

06 April 2017

Shame the numbers in the infographic don't add up!

Stedroy Farrell

05 April 2017

Technology is now an integral part of everything we use, and as such has become unavoidable. However the reliance only on its should use in human interaction is, in my view, a direction in which we should be treading very carefully. No doubt there is a lot of in-depth knowledge available regarding the bodies of all beings, resulting mainly from the availability of such systems, but it still does not negate the requirement to focus on the being that is suffering, during the short time they are given for a consultation. 1: Very often, the older practitioners are not as adept in the use of the ever changing technology, and find themselves trying to get to grips with the latest change on the system, instead of listening to what the customer / patient is saying to them. 2: The fact that they are able to collect and store such a mountain of data is like a magnet to many practitioners, who simply find it impossible to resist. Consequently they often find themselves down blind alleys and end up misdiagnosing, or worse being unable to arrive at a diagnosis in a reasonable time (again, not actively listening to the customer / patient).

Mario John Carlo Brown

05 April 2017

1)The accompanying "infographic" carefully compares chalk and cheese and pronounces that cheese is more edible than chalk because of computerisation. 2) Patients are individuals - computer-driven and recorded medical records are not designed for individuals. On the few occasions I have to visit the group practice, because there is no place in the electronic record to record the most singular and important medical fact about me, each time I have to remind the young GPs that I am a retired doctor and there is no need to simplify either vocabulary or explantion. Electronic records seem to me to have a "one size fits all" design philosophy. There is no place for a square peg in any of these round holes no matter that they be everso technologically advanced. 3).I trained in the days when a doctor gained respect and trust by learning about and respecting the individuality of each patient. There was no need to get a page from Google to secure the trust of a patient, which trust a GP should properly earn from patients by the " personal touch".

Justin Philip Richards

04 April 2017

Unfortunately, in recent years I've had to attend my local doctor's surgery more frequently than before, for one thing or another - I won't bore you with the details! But fortunately the service I've received has always been very good; if you exclude the issue of almost never being admitted in to see the doctor for the time allotted to me - they're almost always running late! Over the last four or five years I've noticed that, especially with the younger doctors, they'll be using their computers as you talk to them - writing up their notes as the appointment progresses. I don't have a problem with this, since I know their time is precious, although I can appreciate that some people might be mildly offended by the doctor's shared attention between them and their monitor. However, on the plus side, the prescriptions are now typed and printed so there's no issue for the pharmacist struggling to try and understand the doctor's handwriting - surely a huge boon! Doctors also now ask a lot more lifestyle type questions of their patients, which, personally, I think is the way forward. We all need to take more responsibility for our own health and stop relying on the increasingly over-stretched health service to pick up the pieces of the bad life-style decisions (smoking, over-eating, too much loud music) that we've made over the years. That's the only way I see the NHS surviving, in a fit-for-purpose state for another 100 years. Personal health and fitness wearable devices can play a significant role in our personal fitness and well-being, although I do have my concerns about the security of such devices as part of the ever-growing internet of things, but that's, perhaps, another subject, for another day's discussion... I thought the infographic linked to was interesting, although none of it's findings were surprising to me; I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not.

Sharon Gaskell

04 April 2017

In my experience technology is having a positive influence, the doctors / nurses I have visited in the recent past do not seem to have less time or be distracted by technology. On the positive side my doctor Googled the skin condition my son was suffering with, showed me a picture that matched exactly and reassured me it was nothing to worry about.