The NHS is changing. It has to if it is to offer sustainable care in the future. New models of care are emerging to meet our evolving healthcare needs:
- We are living longer, and more of us will have one or more long-term conditions
- Avoidable conditions, which we could prevent, are widespread
- As patients, we are more demanding and have higher expectations
There is an unsustainable increase in demand for health and care. Official reviews suggest how the NHS should change. The Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care in Wales, the Five Year Forward View and Scotland's 2020 Vision have common threads. One is to organise care around the patient and their family, as close to home as possible.
What does this mean? One significant impact is having a more extensive range of carers and clinicians treating patients. Your multi-disciplinary team could include:
- GPs from more than one practice
- District and community nurses
In the past, each of these would maintain their notes to keep a record of their patient interactions. Some would be electronic, but most would be paper-based. These islands of information are not conducive to collaboration. To enable safe and efficient care, you need one set of digital patient records across the whole team. When care is taking place in or near the patient's home, you will also need mobile access to these records.
It is not just the NHS that is changing. The technology you use to support and enable care must improve too. Innovative IT solutions make it easy for you to access patient records anywhere, at any time.
Here are our tips to help multi-disciplinary teams embrace technology to enable the new models of care:
1. Give every clinician and carer access to patient records
The electronic notes stored in GPs' clinical systems are the most detailed account of each patient's medical history. This information includes details of:
- prescribed medication
- test results
Vision's record sharing is interoperable. It can share records from EMIS and Vision systems across the team. Giving each multi-disciplinary team member access to these primary care records is essential. Without sight of a patient's medical history, you are working blind, which isn't safe.
Having sight of historical information is only part of the picture. To maintain a complete history, each team member must add details of the care they provide to the same electronic records. When the whole team has read and write access, you transform the shared record. The scope extends from the care provided at the GP practice to a holistic view of every encounter.
2. Work with sharing agreements
Does every team member need to see the whole patient record? Well, that depends. They need the information that is relevant to the care they provide. That will vary between services. GPs working at a federated extended hours appointment service might need comprehensive details. But a podiatrist will only need to see information about feet and legs, and influential conditions such as diabetes and arthritis. The information required for a mental health service would be different again.
The secret is only to share what each service needs. Is that possible? It is when you use sharing agreements. Putting sharing agreements in place is much easier than you might think:
- The local team of GPs specify which parts of the patient record to share with the care service. As an example, this could include the summary and current medication, but nothing else.
- The next step is to specify particular conditions and medication to share or exclude. Excluding sensitive information, such as data about sexual health, is normal.
- The final decision is to define who can access the information. Individual role-based user accounts are set up for these people.
- Linking the sharing requirements with user accounts controls and governs the record sharing
The beauty of sharing agreements is that you can set up as many as you want within the same locality. Running many agreements side-by-side controls precisely what each service can see, which is especially useful for multi-disciplinary teams.
3. Use your smartphone or tablet
Caring for patients in or close to their home restricts access to desktop computer systems. But we live in the digital age. We can access information anywhere, anytime on our smartphones and tablets. Mobile networks continue to improve, and mobile WiFi hotspots are common. These technological developments are great news for multi-disciplinary healthcare teams. You can use your smartphone or tablet to access patient records.
Innovative apps, such as Vision Anywhere, provide 24/7 access to patient records on the device of your choice. You can use your existing smartphone or tablet, whether it's an:
- iPhone or iPad
- Android™ smartphone or tablet
- Windows tablet, convertible or laptop
Vision Anywhere lets you view and add to patient records. It makes use of the features you find on modern devices to improve the experience. On the iPhone and iPad app, you can use the same technology as Siri to dictate notes into patient records.
Our goal is to simplify and de-clutter healthcare software, so it is easy to learn and use. Vision Anywhere has many features to make it quick and easy to add information during consultations.
You can use Vision Anywhere on a Windows tablet, convertible or laptop to work with shared records. Every member of your multi-disciplinary team can access medical information while they are with their patients.
Record sharing in action
Vision's record sharing scales for any shared care setting, from a small cluster of GPs to large multi-disciplinary teams. The rural village in Letham is using Vision to improve access to healthcare services. District nurses are accessing patient records from 8 GP practices in surrounding towns. The results are stunning. Read the case study for more details.
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