NPS study into GP clinical software shows room for improvement

NPS better choices, better health (NPS) has continued its research into Australian clinical software, previewing an as yet unpublished paper in an editorial piece featured in the February 2011 edition of Australian Prescriber.

The editorial overviews a process undertaken by NPS whereby seven general practice clinical software products were selected and assessed against a comprehensive list of desirable features. This list of features was published in 2010 by Sweidan M, Williamson M, Reeve J, Harvey K, O’Neill JA, Schattner P, et al, in their paper: Identification of features of electronic prescribing systems to support quality and safety in primary care using a modified Delphi process.

In their recent editorial, authors James Reeve and Michelle Sweidan lament the lack of standards guiding the development of general practice clinical software in Australia, stating: “Over 90% of general practitioners use one of the 20 or so commercial systems that are available to write prescriptions, order pathology and other tests, record medical progress notes or communicate with other healthcare providers. Despite the widespread use of e-prescribing systems, there are no clear standards or guidelines for their development. This has led to a variety of systems with markedly different capabilities, particularly in terms of assisting general practitioners to prescribe safely and effectively.”

The clinical software products evaluated by NPS were Best Practice, Genie, Medical Director 2, Medical Director 3, MedTech32, Practix, and Profile. However an NPS spokesperson indicated that the “systems will be de-identified in the published manuscript as the intention of the study was to look at features across all systems and make general recommendations for improvements that support quality and safety of prescribing.”

The research revealed that for five of the seven clinical systems evaluated, less than 50% of the desirable clinical decision support features were observed as “fully implemented,” the authors pointing to the “lack of clinical information resources in a format which is suitable for decision support.” The authors also noted that “when systems included decision support, it was often unclear where the information was derived from and whether it was up to date.”

Published preliminary findings of the research are available from the NPS website, with results from the final stages of the study expected to be made available via the NPS website in June.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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