Leeds first city to launch fully integrated NHS GP Electronic Patient Records service through GP Connect

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.

Hospital and Council start to test AI in undertaking tasks, as ‘virtual workers’

Ipswich Hospital, part of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) has engaged three robots over the past three months to mimic keyboard and mouse clicks, to assist with routine admin referrals, using ‘virtual workers’.  Handling 2,000 referrals on average per week, this has saved the Trust considerable costs and increased efficiency amongst frontline staff.

• Tasks have included sending scan and blood test results from Primary Care GPs to Secondary Care hospital consultants, with intelligent automation supplied by British software company Thoughtonomy. This works over the existing applications and systems as part of the GP Electronic Referral Service (where patient data is collected and sent to the relevant consultant).

• Initial results claim the new system is eight times more productive than using humans, releasing 500 hours of medical secretaries’ time, working 24×7 and anticipated to save £220,000 over the next nine months. The referral process has been seen to successfully reduce down the referral process from 15-20 minutes, to 5 minutes.

Darren Atkins Deputy Director of ICT, commented, “At the Trust we have a philosophy of making time matter”.   Mr Atkins continued: “Done to scale, intelligent automation has the capacity to massively drive transformation on a huge scale within the NHS.”

Neurology department medical secretary, Christine Harvey added:  “We used to extract information from (patient records) from one bit of software and put it into another bit of software. This was time consuming and carried the risk of mistakes from the patient notes system”.

The technology has been received positively at the hospital, offering flexibility from ‘virtual buddies’, maximising the benefit of automation and enabling frontline staff to spend more quality time with patients and on workload, be more productive and enabled the Trust to cut down on short term agency use.  Technically, the queues and productivity can also be monitored very easily on the move through smart devices.  The scheme has the capability to be extended to using AI ‘staff’ to make appointments and do accounting and patient queries.

A report by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) states that automation could save the NHS up to £12.5bn a year, or 10 per cent of its annual budget.  The Department for Health identified that the NHS’ infrastructure was “not currently fit for purpose for AI” and would require standardising to fully harness the technology’s potential.  A move in this direction however is clearly signalled as a route to improvement and cost savings for the NHS.

Dr. Bernhard Kainz at the Department of Computing at Imperial College London said: “At the moment the NHS has still an IT problem rather than a data science or AI opportunity.. and rather, it marks an important step towards clinical decision making supported by AI because it makes sparse, unstructured data accessible for automated data processing”.

Meanwhile, in a bid to improve transformation of social care through technology, Bradford Council is in the process of developing a proof of concept for an AI tool in adult social care, funded by NHS Digital and the Local Government Association.  Bradford, working with Rescon Technologies has designed the relevant service requirements which take on board matters as diverse as dental care, financial matters and watching football.  The findings of the project will be known in December and decisions on how to take matters further determined at that time with stakeholders.

For an understanding of the core distinctions between IT transformation and Digital Transformation and routes of developmental interest for the public sector, read Amicus ITS’ latest White Paper here.

If you would like to discuss this with a member of the Sales department, please contact Amicus ITS on 02380 429429

Take Up For GP Online Services Hits 42% rise YOY in 2018

With 1 million patients now using the NHS every 36 hours, the pressure is firmly on the nation’s healthcare system to cope with an increased, ageing population, more complex medical conditions being treated, increased waiting time for treatment and more ingenious medicine which is keeping people alive for longer.  Tie that to Brexit and the drive for a 7 day service against today’s staffing pressures and you can see a perfect storm brewing.

Enter then, Health Minister Jeremy Hunt and reflect on his 5 Year Forward View for the NHS. Published in 2015, he laid out his vision for a gradual but persistent transition to patient power – in which digital technology would play a central role.  This was expanded on with his appointment of digital guru Martha Lane Fox to identify four key changes to map out a digital NHS for everyone.  Her stated targets included the following:

o  To reach the furthest first and leave nobody behind
o  To provide free WiFi for all throughout the NHS
o  To build the skills of NHS staff to support people’s needs in the digital age
o  To boost take up of online GP services

So it’s exciting three years on to hear good news coming from NHS Digital’s Leeds HQ. Their latest figures show patient registration take up for secure GP online services in England has risen sharply.  Nearly 14 million patients are now going to their GP’s online for a variety of NHS services without the need to visit a surgery or phoning the practice. These include:

•  Booking appointments
•  Ordering repeat prescriptions
•  Patients view their own records

The figure of 14 million patients is up 42% on February 2017 and amounts to a total of 24% of patients in England now being registered.

For the GP surgeries in local communities who have taken the plunge to embrace technology and overcome initial reservations in parts, these digital pioneers are now reaping the benefits from a variety of online GP cloud service providers.  The results are significant time savings for both the staff and practice GPs, fewer ‘no shows’ and improved patient awareness as patients become more knowledgeable about long term conditions.  The net benefit is derived because GPS have integrated the online public service with single source information clinical systems like EMIS and SystmOne.

There will always rightly need to be a hawkish attitude around protecting sensitive data, however if these new online systems are well governed and securely managed, the public that take up this offer can enjoy a degree of ownership of their healthcare data in intelligent partnership with their GPs and healthcare providers – and in so doing, feel good too they are contributing to improving NHS service efficiencies in the 21st Century.