Software that automatically works out correct dosages of anti-coagulation drugs for patients has won the prestigious John Perry Prize from the Primary Health Care Specialist Group (PHCSG) at the British Computer Society.

The prize, worth £500, was given to the INRstar system, developed by Dr Mark Sullivan and Dr Robert Treharne Jones of Sullivan Cuff Software. “The quality of entries to this year’s prize was very high,” said Dr Glyn Hayes, chairman of the judging panel and president of the PHCSG.

“INRstar showed significant value to primary care, good technical merit, and a personal involvement by the authors in improving primary care.” Dr Treharne Jones, marketing director of Sullivan Cuff, told E-Health Insider that the program wasn’t intended to replace clinicians, but make their lives easier: “Decision support software can do the job as well as, if not better than, the ‘human computer’.”

Dosages of warfarin and other anti-coagulants are calculated using scientifically proven algorithms endorsed by the British Committee for Standards in Haematology. Treharne Jones claims that using the software not only saves clinicians’ time, but also helps patients: “It has practical benefits - it increases the review interval between successive tests.”

The software can also be used to issue dosages to patients with blood problems under the new GMS contract. “The average reimbursement per patient per year is £120,” explains Dr Treharne Jones. “In primary care, people have to keep concentrating on other developments at the same time,” said Treharne Jones. “There’s an increasing need for software of this nature.”

INRStar can also be configured for each individual patient and case, and comes with auditing tools and networking facilities. Dr Treharne Jones was a practising GP in Devon before giving up practice to become a software salesman. The product came into being when he visited Dr Sullivan’s surgery and saw him working on the program. Dr Sullivan still works in general practice.

The awards were set up in honour of Dr John Perry, a pioneer of information technology in healthcare during the 60s, who died in 1985. The prize was set up in order to recognise software or academic papers that, in the judges’ opinion, use IT to bring patient benefits in primary care. It was presented to the team by his widow, Dr Joan Trowell.