IT in the NHS: clinical information systems

by Leicestershire Health Informatics Service 13. October 2011 15:12

Clinical information systems (CISs) are used by GPs, hospitals and others to manage clinical and administrative information and to improve the quality of healthcare. The complex IT requirements in healthcare have led to the development of numerous CISs to deal with a range of requirements, such as the issues surrounding data maintenance, patient confidentiality and the concept of the paperless patient record. By collecting and integrating data these systems can deliver key information to the right staff so they can use all the facts to make effective, timely, proactive decisions.

EMIS and SystmOne are the CISs you are most likely to come across in our area. SystmOne is used by healthcare professionals across the UK and is predominantly used in primary care, though its use in secondary care settings is growing. Modules for GP, prisons, child health, community units and palliative care are currently widely used throughout the NHS and in the last year, a number of secondary care modules have begun to be rolled out. These include modules for community and acute hospitals, accident and emergency, maternity, mental health and social services.

The system, which now holds over 20 million patient records, has full document workflow management, text messaging, self-check-in systems and online functionality, all built into the core. It helps GPs to maximize QOF points, streamline their work processes and most importantly allows clinicians to concentrate on patient care.

Over the last couple of years we have been deploying SystmOne clinical computer system for GPs across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and we have recently begun on EMIS web deployment as well. GPs can use either of these systems to:

·         Replace paper-based medical records of registered patients

·         Support health promotion and health screening

·         Manage patients’ appointments

·         Record the clinical monitoring of patients with long term conditions

·         Generate prescriptions, manage repeat medicines and the electronic transmission of prescriptions

If we take a closer look at one of the function of a CIS we could consider the volume of medicines doctors prescribe which continues to increase as national policy and better informed patients drive health improvement. People are being screened and pro-actively treated, rather than waiting until they become symptomatic to find out they have something wrong with them. For example, a patient who is diagnosed as hypertensive may be managed with up to 3 or 4 medicines. If they also have other cardiovascular risk factors, they may be prescribed a statin and aspirin on top, so they can very quickly go from taking no medicines at all, to taking 4, 5 or 6 different ones. All of this information needs capturing, and it would be a hugely time consuming task for practices to do this manually, due to all of the cross referencing that needs to be performed. Modern computer systems can easily cope with this, which in turn allows information to be searched and grouped, allowing patient records to be reviewed and managed in the most appropriate way possible.

Prescriptions themselves have been generated by computer systems for some time, but they are increasingly being produced with bar codes. Special readers in pharmacies can scan the encoded information, reducing the risk of error in translation of the prescription. GP systems can produce batch prescriptions to enable repeat dispensing of regular medicines. This is usually more convenient for the patient and reduces some of the administrative work involved with repeat prescribing systems in practices. It will soon be possible for prescriptions to be sent electronically, directly to a pharmacy of the patient’s choice, eliminating the need for a paper prescription altogether.

Clinical information systems are continually increasing in functionality as they become more widely embedded across the healthcare sector. The facts and figures they can collate and generate support better management of services within the NHS and lead to greater coordination between the NHS and other care providers such as social services. The take-up of CISs across all levels of the NHS will provide the means for more informed decision making and ultimately lead to even better care for patients.

We can help

If you are interested in knowing more about SystmOne or EMIS please contact us

Links to more clinical systems info

A one-stop guide for clinicians involved in deploying IT systems – from NHS Connecting for Health

GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) - a scheme through which the NHS funds the provision of GP clinical IT systems in England

Comments (1) -

olay regenerist
olay regenerist United States
10/15/2011 6:52:33 AM #

Thanks for sharing such healthy information with us.Your posting is valuable to us.Thanks for sharing.


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About the author

Rupal Patel, blogging for NHS Leicestershire Health Informatics Service, your one-stop-shop for information management and technology. Writing about some of the work we do, discussing IT issues, introducing some of our terriffic staff and generally shedding a little light on the world of health informatics. Visit our website at:

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