The past, present and future of innovation in general practice

By Dr Peter Short. 12 July 2018Dr Peter Short clinical advisor at NHS Digital

Peter Short is a GP and Clinical Advisor at NHS Digital. He trained at Birmingham Medical School and his driving passion is the use of systems and information that can be made available to support all frontline clinicians. Here he talks of how technology has shaped general practice over the years, and how he sees its future.

I feel so lucky and privileged to have worked in the NHS for over 35 years. It has given me real purpose in life. It has been at the heart of my work, home and family life. In return I have worked hard to make things a little bit better for all the people I have come into contact with, both patients and colleagues.

As a GP, the major innovation that has changed the way I have worked over those years is the introduction of electronic health records and the access to information at the touch of my fingertips that enables me to provide better care for all my patients.

This has made a huge difference to me working efficiently, safely and providing a quality service in my general practice. It is a tool set that I now take for granted every day.

My work now generally focuses on the safety of patients, overall clinical governance of the way organisations work and how they use information, and making sure the tools the service is provided with help them do a better job.

I think the future holds a lot of promise. The projects GP Connect and Care Connect have the amazing potential to open up information for the use of care in lots of other settings.

I think we are going to have an exciting time with technology over the next thirty years. It can do so much – yet as a clinician I also see that it can’t do everything. I want to enable patients to take a share of the burden of looking after their own care through optimal use of technology

Patients and citizens need insight into how they can choose to lead healthier lives. Having access to their medical records is one of the key steps in achieving that. This also gives them more responsibility for their own care and the care of others in their family.

We want to reduce the burden to the NHS that chronic disease creates. People need to know how to reduce the risks of chronic conditions and, when they occur, they need to know how to better manage those conditions in a partnership of trust with the NHS.

If we achieve that, we can really help the NHS and be partners in this great health care system. We still need to have the NHS around in thirty years’ time as a caring, capable and reliable organisation to look after us when we really need it.

Happy birthday NHS.