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  • 1 April 2018 to 31 January 2020
  • Project No: 408
  • Funding round: FR 16

The use of digital technology is promoted as having the potential to improve patients’ access to healthcare, improve the quality of care, and reduce GP practice workload.  However, despite the increased use of digital technology in GP practices the unintended consequences (both benefits and problems) for patients and staff remain unknown.

We will examine the unintended consequences of technology for patients, GP’s and other practice staff for three popular uses of technology in GP practices. 1) Smartphone apps for self-management of medical conditions, 2) alternatives to face-to-face consultations, including online consultations and 3) patients online access to their medical records. Our study will investigate how technology affects access to primary care, medical decision-making, patient safety doctor-patient relations and GP practice workload.

First, we will hold a workshop with members of the public, key researchers in the field and technology industry developers and the NHS to help us identify an initial range of unintended consequences to investigate. Second, we will review published research, commentary and opinion pieces to draw together what is already known on the topic. Third, we will conduct interviews with 30 patients and 30 GP practice staff and technology developers to examine the actual experiences of using digital technology in GP practices.

We will hold a second workshop with key stakeholders (patient representatives, GPs, technology developers and NHS) to gain their views on our findings. At the end of this project we will produce our findings in an accessible format for patients, GPs and key stakeholders from the NHS and the technology industry to help promote the best use of technology in primary care.

Two patients with experience of using technology for their health conditions are collaborators on the grant and will help with the study design, developing study information, interpreting findings and drafting publications, including lay summaries.

Amount Awarded: £293,241.