A south London PCT has pooled its patient database with the council social services system in order to improve patient aftercare and data quality.

Croydon PCT and Croydon Social Services are using MultiVue, by VisionWare, to synchronise the two record systems. The software allows both health and social care professionals to access the integrated records through a secure web connection.

The system initially is being used to support the single assessment process (SAP) for older people, but will eventually be expanded to support mental health as well. The software is fully integrated with the NPfIT’s electronic care records service standards, and is e-GIF compliant.

John Toole, head of health informatics at Croydon PCT, said: "A common person index is a pre-requisite for any multi-agency information sharing initiative.

"Before you can develop joint care plans or assessments, you must be certain that you are sharing information about the same person. Often, a person can be identified in different ways in different systems, including different ways of spelling the name or multiple addresses for one individual. This makes it virtually impossible to confidently share information.

“MultiVue has enabled us to overcome this problem by helping us to identify and match clients… [it] will become the core component for all future information sharing initiatives and will have a real impact on the way joined-up services are delivered to our residents."

An original synchronised database started being created in April 2004, when 280,000 records from the PCT’s ePEX system and 150,000 records from social services were merged, creating 42,000 matches. From this point, the database is updated as and when needed. The software is also useable over a wireless connection using any handheld device with web access.

A spokesperson for VisionWare said the software “will enable informed, timely and accurate decisions to be made on care plans and assessments. This will have a beneficial effect on individuals who have needs that span health and social care."

The system is hoped to cut down on referral times and will be used as a core component for any future developments within local government information-pooling initiatives.