GPs forge e-messaging links with health boards


26 Jul 2004

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Approximately 50 GPs around the country have signed up for an electronic messaging system that links their practices with a secure virtual private network (VPN) that links all of Ireland’s health board base, enabling them to keep up to date on lab and blood results, prescriptions and scheduling of patients’ hospital visits.

The GP Messenger system has been rolled out to GPs by Dublin-based health technology firm Quantum Computing and is based on an international XML standard called HL7, modified for the local sector by the Health Boards Executive (HeBe) to simplify and streamline communications between GPs and hospitals that fall under the auspices of the various health boards.

Andrew Mcfarlane, the managing director of Quantum, told siliconrepublic.com: “Technology in healthcare is becoming much more standards-driven and HL7 is a data formatting standards that will have a greater impact locally in the years ahead.

“For example, a doctor would send in blood sample to a hospital and following lab tests the information would go directly onto the hospital information system and be available for download at the doctor’s practice. There would be in the region of 50 GPs currently working in this way within the Health Board base of hospitals. These type of technologies deliver considerable cost savings for GPs in terms of phoning labs and hospitals for test results.”

Mcfarlane’s Quantum Computing has been focusing on the healthcare sector since 1994 and its various messaging, document management and health management technologies are currently in use by over 600 organisations throughout Ireland and the UK, not only in the health sector but in traditional organisations.

For example, its occupational health management technologies are currently being used in a variety of industries and sectors in Ireland and the UK, including the Irish civil service, the Gardai, Thames Valley Police, Strathclyde Police and a variety of private sector employees.

Quantum Computing, which employs 30 people in Ireland and the UK, is entirely self-funded and in the past year recorded revenues in the region of €2.25m.

Mcfarlane told siliconrepublic.com that the company, which has grown at a rate of 65pc in the past year, is looking to expand through acquisition. “There’s a consolidation under way in the healthcare technology sector and we are actively looking at potential acquisitions. However, in order to do that we may look at taking on venture capital.”

By John Kennedy