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Collaborative healthcare services. A secret worth sharing.

Written by Steve Marriott on 10-Nov-2017 11:05:31

sharing agreementsMost GP practices collaborate with local practices and other healthcare service providers. Sharing patient records can enhance or even enable collaborative healthcare services. We're talking about sharing the most sensitive personal information. How do you make sure you're only sharing what you need to, and only with the people who need to see it?

Why collaborate?

The Five Year Forward View describes the need for new models of care. We need collaborative working across the NHS to break down organisational boundaries. Joining up GP, community and mental health services allows:

  • care services to be sustainable
  • specialist services to move into the community
  • better patient access

In a recent survey by Nuffield Trust and the RCGP, 81% of respondents from GP practices said they were part of a collaboration. They operate at varying scales, ranging from a few practices to whole CCGs. It is common for practices to belong to more than one collaboration. A typical example would be a CCG out-of-hours (OOH) service running alongside federated podiatry and mental health services.

Sharing enables collaboration

To provide high quality care services, the clinician needs to know their patient. That's easy when a GP sees one of their own registered patients. But what about a GP working at an OOH service or a district nurse who sees patients from several practices? Sharing is the answer. When the clinicians working at these services can see medical histories they know about:

  • previous encounters
  • diagnoses
  • medication
  • allergies

This helps them make appropriate care decisions straight away with confidence.

Always share everything?

Let's stop and think for a moment. Does every clinician and carer 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 shared care services. GPs working at an OOH service might need comprehensive information. But a podiatrist will only need to see information about feet and legs, and influential conditions such as diabetes and arthritis. The information required at the mental health service would be different again.

The secret is to only share what each service needs. Is that possible? It is when you use sharing agreements. They are at the core of Vision's patient record sharing.

Putting sharing agreements in place is much easier than you might think:

  1. 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.
  2. The next step is to specify particular conditions and medication to share or exclude. It is normal to exclude sensitive information such as data about sexual health.
  3. The final decision is to define who can access the information. Individual role-based user accounts are set up for these people.
  4. We build corresponding rules into Vision's patient record sharing that link the sharing requirements with the user accounts. This controls and governs the patient record sharing for each service.

Parallel services - no problem

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 exactly what each service can see. Let's go back to the earlier example. Using three agreements would give the local GPs complete control over how patient records are being shared with the OOH, podiatry and mental health services.

Next steps

Interoperable systems allow healthcare systems to exchange data. We can set up sharing agreements using data from different GP IT systems. Richmond GP Alliance was the first federation to have end-to-end interoperability. They are sharing data from Vision and EMIS systems with GPs who provide extended hours appointments.

The possibilities are limitless. Talk to us to learn how sharing agreements could revolutionise your collaborative services.

Revolutionsise your collaborative services

Topics: record sharing, shared care

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