Evaluation, Research and Development Unit

Isabel PRO


Isabel PRO is a computerised decision support system that has been assessed over the past 7 years for its effectiveness, principally in paediatric and critical care settings. This system is to be piloted on a 3 month trial basis in 7 general practices and 1 out-of-hours clinic in County Durham. NHS CDD has asked ERDU to evaluate the Isabel PRO software programme in the primary care setting.

Priorities addressed

NHS County Durham and Darlington has recently been awarded Innovation funding from the North East Strategic Health Authority to pilot this software in primary care.  A three-month pilot is due to commence on 01 April 2010 in seven GP practices and 1 OOH centre.  It is envisaged that the tool will support more effective decision-making with regards to referrals and clinical investigation.  The proposed evaluation will help to determine if the tool is to be resourced for all GP practices within County Durham and Darlington.


The Isabel PRO software makes available reports of user activity, searches and components. Data on referrals and treatments will be taken from the clinical record. An onscreen post-user survey will be employed to assess the impact of the tool on decision making. Focus group interviews will be conducted retrospectively to gain an understanding of why and how the clinicians did or did not access the tool.

The primary questions guiding this investigation are:

  • 1. What is the tool's impact on care?
  • 2. Is the tool cost effective?
  • 3. How does the tool impact the clinical decision making process?
  • 4. What is the uptake of the tool by practices over the course of the trial?


NHS Research Ethics approval was not needed as the Chair of the LREC considered the project to be service evaluation.

The proposed evaluation will commence once the software is rolled out, which is 1 April 2010. Training of practice staff will take place the week of 29 March 2010. The trial ends 30 June 2010, and the evaluation report by ERDU is planned to be supplied to the PCT by 1 September 2010.

Contact e.j.henderson@durham.ac.uk