Diabetic patients in Carmarthenshire, Wales are piloting new electronic health records which will share all information about their care and check-ups by GPs and specialists.
Informing Healthcare, the Welsh Assembly Government programme for NHS IT, has created the shared electronic diabetes record to bring all the patient’s information together so that the whole treatment history is in one single record.
The record will be accessible to all health professionals to add to, including the GP, hospital consultant, dietician or eye specialist.
By doing this, all the specialists can look at, add to and review the patient’s medical history, avoiding duplication and uncertainty over who is doing what, including tests and investigations.
Dr Meurig Williams diabetes consultant for Carmarthenshire NHS Trust said: “We know that good management of diabetes can reduce complications and lengthen people’s lives. The shared record allows better collaboration between the different care settings and it provides the opportunity to change how we work together to improve services for patients.”
Patients can ask for a print out of their shared record that will show which healthcare professionals are involved, and their personal medication regime to help them understand which drugs they need to take and when.
Dr Terry Davies, GP and medical director of Carmarthenshire Local Health Board said: “Sharing information will help health professionals make informed decisions about the treatment needed. Patients who have a good knowledge of their treatment options are also better equipped to understand their condition so they can better manage their own care effectively and responsibly.”
Using new technology to share diabetes health records is a first for Wales and is one of a number of service improvement programmes introduced by Informing Healthcare. Making it a reality has involved collaboration between Carmarthenshire NHS Trust, the local health board, patients, and GP practices and their suppliers in Carmarthenshire and south Ceredigion.
Leo Lewis, Informing Healthcare project manager, commented: “We have been pleased to work in partnership with our colleagues in Carmarthenshire on this project, which is a positive example of how information and technology can support patient care and improve communication between clinicians.”
The project is supported by leaflets explaining why the shared diabetes electronic record can help patient care.
Diabetes is a growing problem throughout the UK, with 127,000 people with diabetes living in Wales, of which about 8,000 are in Carmarthenshire. Without the correct care people with diabetes are at increased risk of long term complications such as heart and kidney disease, blindness and amputations.
The initiative is part of a programme to deliver an individual health record for the whole of Wales and complements a parallel Informing Healthcare project in Gwent where a new electronic patient information service is allowing medical professionals on out of hours duty to view a patient’s emergency health record.
All GP practices involved use the INPS GP computer system, with the shared diabetes electronic record stored securely, with strict controls to ensure patients’ information is protected and remains confidential.