NHS Digital have announced the launch this week of the first fully integrated GP Electronic Patient Records system to go live in the City of Leeds. Leeds is the second largest city in England with a population approaching 785,000 so a decent test for working practice results.
This digital transformation has been facilitated by the NHS GP Connect programme service which works with various GP clinical system providers to develop Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to make data from clinical systems available in standard form, so that it can be used across different systems. In the case of Leeds, TPP (SystmOne) joined forces with EMIS Health to create this vital, secure backlink to GP practices.
The new system unlocks the digital records of all patients across the City to hospital clinicians, connecting primary and secondary care providers 24×7. It will enable authorised clinical staff to view GP records digitally and have source GP patient information to hand to better inform their care of patients. The move reduces the burden on GP practices having to share information via traditional unsecured routes like fax. This is the first in a sea change of healthcare updates for the City, as plans are made to add more benefits in 2019. These include secure access to structured medications (to optimise use of medicines), provision of allergies information, a more efficient appointment management system between practices and the integration of social care and mental health care records.
Richard Corbridge, Chief Digital & Information Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust said: “GP Connect connectivity improves the way data can be used as information in clinical practice throughout the city. Delivering integrated care for the population is the key goal for every healthcare system and why the investment in digital is so intrinsic to the success of healthcare as a system rather than as silos of excellence. In Leeds we can now plan to have a fully integrated primary care, social care, hospital care and mental health care record in place throughout the city in 2019, a giant leap and a unique proposition for the NHS.”
Dr John Parry, Clinical Director at TPP said; “This is a very important step to ensuring that patients benefit from having their medical records available for those caring for them , wherever they are receiving care”.
Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, chief medical officer at EMIS Group said: “We are delighted that connectivity via GP Connect is available right across Leeds. This important partnership with NHS Digital is part of our company’s wider commitment to providing the tools for system interoperability using open NHS standards across the UK, and helping clinicians drive up standards of joined up patient care.”
This marks a significant chapter for the NHS in contrast to the dismal days of NPfIT (National Programme for IT ), the NHS IT programme started in 2002 and scrapped after 9 years by the then coalition government and a public bill of £10 billion. The journey to transformation in the NHS deploying Electronic Patient Records (EPR) has been slow and painful, but now with a number of vendors rolling out EPR services across the country (including: Cerner, Epic, Emis, Rose, eCare, Intersystems and System C), the pace is quickening for standardised data platforms to make an integrated healthcare service a reality rather than a dream.