Health deal looks good for Patient

Revamp: Ben Foster, second left and the Patient team at their offices in the Kroto Innovation Centre. ''                               Picture Steve Parkin
Revamp: Ben Foster, second left and the Patient team at their offices in the Kroto Innovation Centre. '' Picture Steve Parkin
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Healthcare software specialists have turned to a team of internet experts from Sheffield to revitalise one of the UK’s leading health information sites, used by GPs and their patients.

Leeds-based EMIS develops software that is used by more than half of the GP practices in the UK to store the records of 39 million patients and lets them arrange appointments and order repeat prescriptions online.

The AIM listed company is also behind one of the UK’s most popular health information sites, www.patient.co.uk, which provides information on diseases and conditions, medicines and drugs and health issues for GPs and their patients.

When EMIS decided it was time to revitalise the site, which contains more than 8,000 articles on drugs and diseases, it chose former Plusnet chief Neil Laycock and colleague Ben Foster to set up the team to spearhead the work.

The Patient.co.uk team – based in Sheffield University’s Kroto Innovation Centre on Broad Lane – has grown steadily since it was set up last year and is set to grow further following the launch of the revamped web site.

“We have lots of ideas,” says Ben Foster. “There are so many things we want to do on the site.”

“We want to change the way people access their health care. It’s really exciting because there are so many opportunities to do new things. The sky is the limit.”

Neil Laycock also sees scope for further expansion and likens what could happen with Patient.co.uk to what has happened with the travel trade.

“Twenty years ago, booking a flight online was impossible. Now, a significant propprtion of flights are booked online. A similar thing could happen with healthcare. This is just the start of the journey,” he says.

Many of the developments will be driven by GPs and their patients.

“One of our mantras is listening to customers, engaging with them and finding the best solutions,” says Neil Laycock, who also sees opportunities for Patient.co.uk to serve overseas markets.

“Ten per cent of our visitors come from overseas – from Canada and Australia. If we can create the model here there are opportunties to go international and that is really good news for Sheffield and for Yorkshire.”