A new Scottish national sexual health IT system, known as NaSH, will be piloted in the next few weeks in NHS Lanarkshire, with NHS Ayrshire and Arran to follow.
The system, based on AxSys Technology’s Excelicare product, will provide a common IT platform supporting specialist sexual health services for 12 NHS Boards across Scotland.
A gradual rollout over the next 18 months will commence and, once complete, it will be used by between 1200 to 1500 clinical and administrative staff across 200 sexual health clinical sites, treating over 400,000 patients, a figure expected to grow by 20-30% over the next five years.
Dr Alison Bigrigg, chair of the NaSH project board, told E-Health Insider: “Before NaSH there was no standard approach to the gathering of information from the range of sexual health services, there was a distinct lack of IT systems and support within the clinical environment and there was little or no integration between the traditional specialties of family planning and genitourinary medicine.
“The NaSH project was therefore set up to help address these issues by developing a robust IT system which would improve communication and co-ordination across all sexual health services, improve standards of service delivery and patient care. The system will offer collective knowledge, allowing Scotland to integrate all sexual health data.”
NaSH will incorporate all the sexual health services that are currently being delivered in both primary and secondary environments, including family planning and Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM).
It will also be used in other areas where sexual health clinical encounters occur, such as acute HIV, community gynaecology, counselling, community pharmacy and GP services.
The system is part of Scotland’s national sexual health strategy calling for enhanced access to information and services, and the ability to review data collected to provide information on the sexual health and wellbeing of Scottish citizens.
Once in place across Scotland, the system will provide a national sexual health database which will help to create a joined up sexual health service, working from one central pool of records. The Scottish Government hopes it will be able to use the data to help create new public health initiatives
Dr Bigrigg said: “With a growing population of sexual health patients with increasing expectations, continuing to operate non-integrated paper based clinics across Scotland simply could not be sustained. The new system will create a truly joined up service whilst streamlining the operational day to day process of running individual sexual health clinics.
“Automating the process of data collection will dramatically improve data quality which will have a positive bearing on audit and clinical governance and patient turnaround times. The system will also enhance the efficiency and productivity of screening as clinics will be integrated with the laboratories so results can be delivered electronically.
“It also means we can communicate and deliver results to patients via e-mail, phone or text and protect patient anonymity if requested. Eliminating paper records and manual systems will just make the whole process much smoother for staff and patients and by creating integrated care records this will provide clinicians with reference material at the point of care.”
AxSys say of NaSH: “The system will introduce a new modern country-wide, multi-agency service, and as information can be shared between the various clinical disciplines this will create the first steps towards developing a sexual health electronic patient record in Scotland.”
The company works closely with NHS Scotland and is able to integrate with the national Scottish Care Information (SCI) systems. This will mean that laboratory results held in SCI-Store, can be accessed on NaSH, which will also post data for sharing back to SCI-Store so that it may be available to others.
Similarly, when referrals are received via SCI-Gateway, this information could then become the core for the patient’s NaSH record.
Dr Pradeep Ramayya, CEO of AxSys Technology told EHI: “With so much emphasis nationally on the importance of creating greater consistency and convergence of IT applications and infrastructure the NaSH project is proof that this can be achieved.”