Freeing up patient information to deliver better and more efficient care is a central plank of the Department of Health’s consultation on a new information strategy, and forward-thinking healthcare teams are already showing how this can be achieved on the ground.
Using EMIS’ new clinical system, EMIS Web, clinicians and informatics professionals across England are transforming local services – saving time and money and improving patient care in the process.
EMIS Web has been specifically designed to facilitate cross-organisational healthcare, and to mobilise the rich patient data held in the GP’s ‘cradle to grave’ medical record for appropriate use by the wider healthcare team. Freeing up information in this way is already delivering clear benefits.
Reducing hospital admissions
For example, Liverpool Primary Care Trust has delivered a reduction in patients inappropriately attending Accident & Emergency at the Royal Liverpool Hospital by bringing primary care data into the secondary care setting.
Its Primary Care Diversion Service uses EMIS Web to provide on-the-spot access to key information from the patient records held by the 89 local GP practices who have agreed to share their data for this purpose. This is used to support the work of a primary care nurse to identify and divert patients attending with inappropriate problems back into primary care.
In the five months from April to August this year, the service has diverted 873 of 1,255 patients identified as suitable for diversion to primary care.
The project is not only increasing productivity – by reducing unnecessary, and costly, hospital consultations and tests – but it is also helping to educate patients about appropriate sources of care.
Saving clinical time in community care
In Cumbria, the Westmorland Primary Care Collaborative is showing the benefits of bringing primary care data out into the community.
Through EMIS Web, community healthcare teams working in the South Lakes area – including district nurses, physiotherapists and a community respiratory team – are now able to access the patient’s medical record at the point of need.
As reported in another feature on E-Health Insider, Dr William Lumb, director of the collaborative and a local GP, estimates that deploying EMIS Web into the community, and sharing information has delivered “absolutely phenomenal” savings of 15% to 20% in clinical time.
He said: “Community services don’t go chasing records any more - and they know what’s going on in the rest of primary care.”
Supported by the deployment of EMIS Web, the collaborative also delivered a 6% reduction in emergency admissions in 2009-10.
Seeing the big picture with Qute
Freeing up information delivers benefits beyond the provider level. For service commissioners, having access to timely information showing the ‘big picture’ of a patient’s care is essential to planning services and monitoring trends and costs.
EMIS’ Qute product extends the information-sharing functions of EMIS Web by tying Secondary Uses Service (SUS) data directly back to the patient record.
Matching primary and secondary care data in this way – via an easy-to-read split screen matching episodes of care to specific patients – is an extremely powerful management tool.
It will allow the new GP commissioners to understand the wider picture of how healthcare is being delivered and accessed within a local area or neighbourhood – essential before they can plan new services for the future.
Through Qute, commissioners can also monitor and better understand the use of hospital services by the so-called ‘frequent fliers’ – often patients with complex long-term conditions who may require more or different kinds of support.
Gary Shuckford, group operations director for EMIS, said: ”Monitoring costs and service use will become ever more important in the new-look NHS, and Qute is an invaluable tool because it takes the pain out of reconciling complex datasets.
“It’s a good example of how intelligent and easy-to-use IT systems can help the NHS to work smarter and deliver on the government’s mantra of doing more with less.”