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Go West for Primary Care Network Interoperability (PCNs)

Go West for Primary Care Network Interoperability (PCNs)

The first wave of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are now offering patients new services and are tackling the challenge of interoperability very differently.

Some PCNs are wanting practices to use one primary care software system, others are realising that may be the wrong approach.


Matthew Grant, practice manager at Forrest Medical Centre, Coventry, and administration lead for the Coventry and Rugby CCG Go West Network, has a different perspective.

“I can see that having every practice use the same clinical IT system solves the problem of interoperability at primary care level but what about community care and secondary care? We need to be able to talk to them as well.

Matthew has been trying for some time to get his local CCG to try another path to interoperability. He looked around and found Vision had a solution that could do exactly what he wanted.

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“When I looked around there wasn’t really any other option than Vision. The network is a mixed economy of software providers and Vision’s Shared Appointments solution was the only product proven to link Vision and EMIS practices.”

So, Matthew put a business case into his CCG, co-ordinated the signing of an agreed data sharing agreement across the seven practices (five EMIS and two Vision) and in March the network created a Dermoscopy service based out of two practices in the network.

Previously, any patient in the network’s catchment area with a worrying looking bump on their skin was sent to University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire.

Now GPs have a choice. If they think the lump is cancerous, patients are referred directly to UHCW under the two-week cancer appointment programme and anything else is referred to a GP with a specialist interest in dermoscopy at one of two “hubs” in the network.

Elizabeth Rowe, an office manager, at Westwood Medical Centre, Coventry, said: “The technology is running well. The GP tells the patient to come and see me and I just click an icon on my terminal screen and book."

“The service is also much more convenient for the patients. Previously, patients were having to make an hour-long bus journey or 30 minutes in the car. Now they can get looked at just down the road.”

“The technology is running well. We haven’t needed to refer many people and the doctors are getting used to who they should refer and who they shouldn’t.”

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