What do GPs and practice managers (PMs) know about data sharing? What do they think of it? Our survey aimed to find out. This is the first survey on data sharing of UK GPs and PMs published in a peer reviewed journal.
In 2016, 98% of UK GPs were using an electronic medical record daily (Under pressure: What the Commonwealth Fund’s 2015 international survey of general practitioners means for the UK). The GP record is typically the main record of a patient. The support of GPs and PMs is thus crucial for patient data sharing to succeed. They will also be able to see clearly some of its biggest challenges.
We sent the survey to all GPs and PMs (637) in all 107 general practices of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group. This is the second largest CCG in England, with a population of 0.86 million. We received 405 responses (64% response rate).
Paper and blog
Petrova M, Barclay M, Barclay S S and Barclay S (2017) “Between “the best way to deliver patient care” and “chaos and low clinical value”: General Practitioners’ and Practice Managers’ views on data sharing”. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 104:74-83, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2017.05.009
You can also read our “Would you share or would you listen?” blog based on the paper.
Cambridgeshire & Peterborough GPs and PMs are familiar with data sharing:
- Over 89% have participated in a local data sharing project about frail, elderly patients. Over 76% have used tools for end of life care data sharing.
- The commercial Medical Interoperability Gateway and the national care.data initiative (now suspended) were the least familiar projects.
- The greatest difference in use concerned care.data. PMs had odds of reporting use 75 times higher than GP partners (95% CI 27–211).
- Comparisons with other countries are unreliable (we found only two sufficiently comparable studies), but positive for the UK. In a study in Michigan, 23% of primary care providers and PMs reported electronic sharing. An EU report benchmarking use of e-health concluded that, on average, only 10% of GPs interconnect with other professionals/organisations through a shared system.
Perceptions of balances and challenges were finely balanced:
- GPs and PMs perceived benefits and challenges of data sharing as having a similar strength (0.53 and 0.56 respectively, 0 was the neutral point, range −2 to 2).
- They saw patient confusion as the biggest challenge and improved coordination as the biggest expected benefit.
- They were most sceptical about benefits linked to hard outcomes and key concerns for the NHS: reduction of avoidable admissions, length of stay in hospital, and costs.
GPs and PMs were discussing the topic with patients:
- 89% of participants have discussed data sharing with patients “occasionally” or more frequently.
- Highly competent IT users were about 4 times more likely to discuss data sharing than those with more basic skills. Yet they also reported higher patient reservations – saying ‘no’ to sharing, strong opposition, confusion or frustration with being asked again and again.
Photo credits: Infografx at iStock, by Getty Images.