On-line booking of hospital appointments direct from the doctor’s surgery will start soon in 24 pilots schemes. There will be progressive extension to all computerised surgeries. This is one of a number of developments planned as part of the introduction of Primary Care Groups which will come into operation in April 1999.
All general practices will become members of a local group which will provide care to the local population and will eventually commission hospital and community services.
The hospital appointment system will operate through the Health Service’s Intranet, NHSNet, which will also allow test results to be sent from hospitals direct to the doctor’s surgery. Work has also started on a lifelong Electronic Patient Record which will also use NHSNet. Each record will contain the individual’s medical history and be available 24 hours a day to doctors, nurses, and to paramedics at the scene of an accident.
Later in 1999 pilots will be launched that will allow GPs and patients to share the latest medical advice and diagnosis through the world’s first national on-line prescribing system ‘PRODIGY’. Having decided on the treatment doctors will then be able to send their prescriptions down the line to the local chemists and pharmacists.