Six primary care trusts in Leicestershire have begun work on implementing a community electronic patient record system for children’s systems supplied by Ethitec.

The six PCTs will use the Ethitec Tiara9 EPR for child physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietetics and podiatry services, bringing these therapies onto the same multi-professional clinical record system that is already supporting the county’s adult therapies.

As part of the implementation therapists have been issued with individual laptops as part of the implementation and will be using the system to record all patient appointments and non-contact information – including during home and school visits – by July 2006.

Having previously operated using a mixture of paper records and separate databases, child physiotherapy and occupational therapy services have effectively gone without an electronic clinical record in the past.

The new implementation will take the number of clinicians now using Tiara9 in Leicestershire from 600 to 650 users. The system’s electronic booking tools are currently processing an average of 750 appointments a day in Leicestershire.

As part of the development of child therapy services the EPR will be used offline to support appointments in the community – in patients’ homes, schools or special educational needs sites.

A successful offline pilot project was completed at the end of 2005, with clinicians enabled to synchronise caseload records from the PCT server onto a laptop, then directly record patient notes electronically in the patient’s home during the course of an appointment, and then to upload the new records when they return to their base.

The PCTs decided to go for the offline model for children’s services due to concerns about the current security of wireless 3G data transfer

Michael Kaiser, Leicestershire Health Informatics Service project manager for the child therapy implementation, said: “Having seen the benefits the Tiara9 system has delivered for adult services in the region, children’s physiotherapists and occupational therapists are looking forward to reaping the same benefits as their colleagues treating adults, who have been able to share patient history summaries across disciplines and reduce waiting times by up to 12 weeks.”

Kaiser added: “Once the decision was taken to extend EPR to child physiotherapy and OT, it made sense to bring all records onto the same system so that we effectively operate ‘from the cradle to the grave’ electronic patient therapy records.”

He said: “The project was priced within our budget and once funding was secured at the end of February, deployment was rapidly turned around within a few months.”

According to Ethitec the Tiara9 system has been designed by clinicians and closely matches workflow patterns. The company said only minor modifications were required to facilitate the extension to child therapies – the most significant being the addition of an age restriction on patient search to prevent unauthorised users accessing the records of children.

Hosted by Charnwood and North West Leicester PCT, the Tiara9 system also serves the five neighboring PCTs of Leicester City West, Eastern Leicester, Hinckley and Bosworth, South Leicestershire and Melton, Rutland & Harborough.