Coronavirus presents the biggest challenge to the NHS in its 70-year history.

Written byEMIS-Health-horizontal-CMYK

As the UK’s leading provider of connected healthcare software and systems – supporting 10,000 healthcare organisations – EMIS Group has a critical role to play.

In England alone, our systems support 4,000 GP practices, 5,200 community pharmacies and more than 100 hospital trusts.

We have a serious duty to fulfil – not only ensuring existing services can flex and scale to meet new demands, but also implementing new solutions at speed to help our customers adapt and cope.

Like many other tech providers, we have risen to the challenge and delivered an astonishing amount of activity in a few short weeks.

Opening the digital front door to primary care

With face-to-face consultations a high risk for GPs and their patients, what’s the alternative? Patients still require care, especially those with long-term or complex conditions.

We realised early on that virtual services would be needed – and fast. We rapidly deployed our existing video consultation software to the 4,000 GP practices in England with systems able to use it. The solution is available free of charge for 12 weeks; we have provided support and training to help GPs get up and running.

Video consulting hasn’t been widely adopted to date because it doesn’t save time. That’s changed; we’ve seen a four-fold increase in the number of video consultations conducted in the last three weeks and expect to see this continue to rise.

Online triage

Online triage is another form of virtual consultation whose time has come – and we have rolled out free online triage software for our GP customers in Scotland, who use different systems than those in England.

These clinically authored triage forms, completed by patients online, help GPs assess where appointments are necessary. Patients who don’t need an appointment are signposted to other services and information.

It saves GPs time and provides swift reassurance to patients. One GP practice in Scotland has created its own online form to help patients worried about coronavirus.

Helping pharmacies do more

Community pharmacies are a vital frontline service in the war against coronavirus; I believe the pandemic will be a turning point in how the public – and the wider NHS – values this highly-trained clinical resource.

Following successful pilots in London, we are about to roll out free video consultation software to all of our 5,200 community pharmacy customers – enabling them to support their patients with extended services during the pandemic.

Trusted information for patients

EMIS Group supports both clinicians/organisations and individual citizens. Our free Patient Access app has 8.4 million registered users and is an important channel to help reduce pressure on GPs and NHS 111.

Our clinically authored covid-19 information hub, live since the beginning of March, has received more than 1.7 million page views. A standalone coronavirus symptom checker has been used by more than 130,000 people.

Data and insights

Fighting the pandemic isn’t just about coping today – we need new insights, quickly, in order to understand the virus better and how we can treat it.

We have partnered with the Nuffield Department of Primary Care at the University of Oxford and the Royal College of General Practitioners to support a major new research initiative into covid-19. Researchers will collect data – under strict governance guidelines – directly from EMIS Health GP practices in order to better understand the spread and impact of the virus.

I am incredibly proud of the work that my company and my colleagues are doing – round the clock – to help the NHS and to save lives.