Providers of acute, community, primary, social and end-of life care in the south west of England are working together and with an ambulance trust to procure an e-prescribing system and integration service.
The South Devon partnership is one of six collaborations, involving 21 Southern acute trusts, that have been formed to invest in a variety of new IT systems; having received nothing from the National Programme for IT in the NHS.
The partnership is unique because it includes only one acute provider - South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
The other members are a combined community and social care provider - Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust - the South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Rowcroft Hospice and Southern Devon GP practices.
The partnership wants to procure an e-prescribing system for use at the acute trust, along with an integration service to enable prescribing information to be accessed by staff working in other organisations.
GP and joint senior responsible officer Dr Jo Roberts told eHealth Insider that the partnership is "somewhat different to all the other collaborations" because the area already has "a history of very strong integrated working between our various organisations."”
He said integration with as many stakeholders as possible is a paramount aim of the clinical commissioning group, which is showing its commitment by funding a project manager for the collaborative, Gill Otway.
"We have recognised for a long time that we would like e-prescribing within the secondary care sector for all the usual reasons - safety, auditability," Dr Roberts said.
"However, we felt that if we could provide information between each of the stakeholders that would improve the interface of e-prescribing and greatly improve patient safety."
Dr Roberts envisioned that once the new system was procured and implemented, the GP record would remain the core record of a patient's medications.
GPs will most likely get alerts about what has been prescribed by other clinicians and decide whether to accept them as changes.
The group is keen to look at extending the integration to care homes, community hospitals, out-of-hours providers and community pharmacies.
Otway said the e-prescribing system would be used primarily by the acute trust; although the hospice does not have an e-prescribing system and may also take it.
She said staff in other organisations would be able to see what has been prescribed in other settings, preferably through their own systems, although this may be via a web front-end.
Summary Care Records are available in South Devon, but these involve logging into another system and give only a snapshot of current medications, she added.
Otway said the trust has been talking to suppliers and believed the bid would likely go to a prime contractor providing the e-prescribing system who will use a sub-contractor for the integration.
"We need to be sure in the specifications that we are very clear about what we are expecting; how they physically do it will be down to [the supplier]," she said.
The collaborative outline business cases for each group were approved by the Southern Programme for IT board last week.
The programme is now seeking approval of the consolidated OBC through the central government departments approvals process. Each group is also moving formally into the procurement preparation stage.
Otway said that while the Department of Health and Treasury have their own priorities, the partnership's particular case should tick a number of boxes for them.
"What they are trying to move to is more joined up care - and that's exactly what we are trying to do down here," she said. "I am optimistic, because otherwise we would have got stopped earlier in the process."
Otway said the acute trust and care trust are both committed to the project and she hoped the project would go ahead even without central funding.
The business case is cash releasing, with pay back starting in year three and exceeding the ratio that the Treasury expects to see in business cases, she explained.
Dr Roberts said that although the collaboration involves non-acute trusts, the other groups are very supportive of its aims.
"They see it as being very innovative and they are keen that we succeed," he said. "Other people can see that they would like it as well so it's something to watch and hopefully adopt elsewhere."
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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