Data service offers GPs insight into local health concerns

A new healthcare data service has launched that will help inform GPs of local health concerns before patients even step through the door.

The free, real time service maps searches made via GP-authored health information website Patient - which receives over 17 million page views a month from visitors looking up a range of medical conditions - against user locations to enable a postcode specific snapshot of local health concerns.

The service also enables users to search health trends by city and provides a condition heat map of the UK.

It is hoped the service could help alert CCGs and individual GP surgeries to potential localised health outbreaks that could impact on surgery enquiries.

Ben Foster, Operations Director of Patient: "During the Swansea Measles epidemic, we took a snapshot of our pages viewed and applied local filtering to it. Measles was at the top of the most viewed pages in Swansea - differing significantly from other areas of the UK. It made us realise that by developing the system further, our data could be used to give a good indication of localised health trends.

"This has two distinct benefits. For GPs, it can give some useful advance warning about conditions occurring in their area. For patients, it not only highlights current local health worries but also directs people to accredited, GP-authored information which may help prevent unnecessary appointments - for example helping to cut flu-related visits."

Plans are also in development for the 'trends box' feature to be made available for GPs to host on their own surgery websites as an additional patient information service.