With Primary Care on the cusp of significant change, attendees flocked to the Best Practice Show at the NEC in October to gain more insight into how the latest technologies can support strategic change and an indication of how they are set to shape services in the future.
In addition to over 200 exhibitors, the excellent conference programme - with over 200 sessions across 10 dedicated theatres - provided healthcare professionals with access to compelling insight from healthcare leaders, policymakers, service users and front-line primary care professionals.
Cegedim Healthcare Solutions’ Gianpiero Celino, Clinical Director, hosted a panel session asking: “Are GP IT Systems Friend or Foe?”, which prompted a lively debate. Panel members drawn from Cegedim’s Clinical Advisory Board included Dr Steven Laitner, GP and NHSE Consultant, expert in PHM and Anticipatory Care; Dr Helen Davies, GP and Clinical Lead for Community and PHM at Calderdale CCG; Dr Charlotte Gretton, GP in Winchester Hampshire and freelance healthcare consultant and Professor Krish Nirantharakumar - Professor in Health Data Science and Public Health at University of Birmingham and Honorary Consultant in Public Health Medicine.
Population Health Management
The debate focused on the role of population health data in empowering digital transformation and the importance of joined up technology that not only enables multi-disciplinary teams to communicate effectively but also explores the power of Artificial Intelligence to effectively direct care to the right resources – and encourages far more patient self-care.
The key focus of the debate was the importance of population health and the need for PCNs to truly understand the health needs of their population. It asked how technology can support the redesign of care around the needs of patients and discussed where technology can equip the primary care workforce to work efficiently and to work at scale across health economies.
With Primary Care resources stretched as never before, there is a growing recognition of the essential importance of Population Health Management (PHM) in understanding the different health and care needs within local populations to support the creation of relevant proactive and reactive care services, including green spaces and clean air, as well as health coaching and prescribed medicines.
The panel also discussed the role of Primary Care population health data within the field of research, most notably in gaining better insight into the impact of comorbidities on patients – an area that is, by default, not covered by clinical trials. For patients taking multiple medications, is there an opportunity to reduce the number? What is the impact on their day to day well-being? Population health data can provide invaluable insights that can support individual patients as well as cohorts, especially with the growing power of AI tools that can rapidly identify opportunities for improvements.
This data must be supported by tools and systems that facilitate new care models within General Practice. As the panel agreed, to maximise the value of multi-discipline teams across a wider community, everyone needs access to better ways of communicating and sharing data. Once this bottleneck is overcome, new models of care will become possible – models that will allow patients to be immediately directed to the correct resource without time consuming GP referral.
Given the huge demands on primary care at the moment, there was widespread recognition of the challenges faced in finding the time and resources to achieve the improvements in PHM required to improve the quality of care to individuals. How, for example, can PCNs embrace existing, proven technologies to rapidly join up distributed MDTs and ensure patients have faster access to the right service?
The positive news is that while PHM is a relatively new discipline for many in Primary Care, a number of General Practices have already begun to use both information and technology to transform patient care.