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Improving patient care by joining up NHS organisations

20th February 2017

Mike Part, Head of our London Digital Programme, explains how the programme is working to improve patient care by enabling NHS organisations to share information across London.

It is widely recognised that NHS organisations in London need to be able to securely share patient information in order to provide the best care for patients.

Better Health for London, the NHS Five Year Forward View and the National Information Board Framework all identified the need for organisations to share information across London in order to support key transformations.

Providing health professionals with the most up to date information about a patient’s medical history means they can make the best decisions about their care.

It also means patients don’t have to repeat details of their medical history to every health professional they meet.

London has a population of between nine and 12 million people. There are at least 5,000 organisations delivering NHS care.

At least 30 information exchanges currently operate in specific parts of London to enable NHS organisations to share information.

However, these exchanges operate locally and don’t cater for when a patient needs care outside their area.

Not being able to share information across artificial geographical boundaries is a significant barrier, particularly in London where we are a very mobile population working, living and socialising across different parts of the capital.

Compared to hospitals in the rest of England, London hospitals see many more people who are from outside their area.

Services provided at a regional or national level, for example NHS 111 or the London Ambulance Service, also face significant barriers to accessing pertinent patient information.

Furthermore, patients are faced with multiple log-ins and have no vehicle through which they can express their own wishes (once) or to be ‘remembered’.

For the past year, Healthy London Partnership’s Digital Programme has been working on developing a technical solution that will mean NHS organisations across London can securely share patient information as long as the patient has given their consent.

If a patient registered at an Ealing GP practice collapses in Haringey, we want hospital clinicians in east London to be able to view that patient’s up to date medical record so they can provide the best care.

We have now come up with a solution which we are calling the London Health and Care Information Exchange. It will have three parts to it:

  • A data controller console – a new online platform where NHS organisations can draft, sign, update and securely store information sharing agreements they have with each other
  • An information exchange – which will enable NHS organisations in London to view and edit healthcare records, when there is a data sharing agreement in place and a patient has given consent for the information to be shared
  • An online account– where patients can view their information and decide which NHS organisations in London can view and share it.

The data controller console means information governance managers across London will have a single online platform where they can create, sign, amend and store information sharing agreements.

Clinicians will be able to view and update patient records using their own systems in real time. They will also receive alerts and notifications if a patient’s care changes.

We will be moving to the testing phase for the data controller console this month (February 2017) and testing of the information exchange in March 2017.

We are currently looking at options on how an online user account can be created so patients can record how their data is shared within the NHS across London.

There is a lot of work still to be done but we hope that the London Health and Care Information Exchange will be live across London by the middle of 2018.

Creating and setting up the exchange requires much technical work behind the scenes but the results will be real benefits for both NHS staff and Londoners.

Read more about the London Digital Programme and the London Health and Care Information Exchange.

About the author

Mike Part is Chief Information and Technology Officer for NHS England (London Region) and the Programme Lead for the London Digital Programme. His mission in life is to ensure that the NHS is able to derive benefit from technologies that have already transformed many other industries. Mike started out as an NHS graduate trainee many years ago and has worked in hospitals, community services and as a provider and commissioner.

An unexpected opportunity to work for Intel was followed by a return to the NHS in a different guise – as CIO for a Strategic Health Authority. In this and subsequent roles, Mike has always tried to focus on the patient workflow and the different interactions that take place between a patient and the different people who are working to provide them with the best care they can.

For more information about our Digital programme contact Mike Part, Senior Lead, at mike.part1@nhs.net

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