Research Article

General practice computing in Scotland.

BMJ 1990; 300 doi: (Published 20 January 1990) Cite this as: BMJ 1990;300:170
  1. M W Taylor,
  2. L D Ritchie,
  3. R J Taylor,
  4. M P Ryan,
  5. N I Paterson,
  6. R Duncan,
  7. K G Brotherston
  1. Department of General Practice, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill Health Centre.


    OBJECTIVE--To investigate a method of assessing the extent of routine patient data held on computer by Scottish general practitioners. DESIGN--An "electronic questionnaire" in the form of an interrogation questionnaire was used to extract a subset of data from practice computers running a standard software package (the general practice administrative system for Scotland, GPASS). The data were retained by each practice and also collected and analysed centrally to produce regional and national data. SUBJECTS--All 257 general practices in Scotland using GPASS software were sent the electronic questionnaire; data from 154 practices, including 759 general practitioners and covering 1,010,452 patients, were collected. RESULTS--Ninety three practices had all their patient records on computer; others had selectively entered data on, for example, only those patients receiving repeat prescriptions. The number of computerised patient records per practitioner ranged from 46 to 2373. Altogether 194,261 patients had repeat prescribing data and 204,005 morbidity or clinical data. CONCLUSION--An electronic questionnaire is a simple and effective way of investigating the information held on practice computers, allowing analysis and feedback of information to practitioners. Development of this system will provide a cumulative information system for Scottish general practitioners.