Plymouth ICT Shared Service has developed an alerting system that provides real time information to community staff when one of their patients has been admitted to hospital.

Susan Bracey, head of software development and integration, told eHealth Insider the Risk of Admission Patient Alert sent an email or text message to key workers, who could then help to plan for their discharge. 

“Community staff are now contacting the wards when their patients have been admitted to hospital, discharging them early if this is in the best interests of the patient, and updating the ward staff on any current care plans in place," she said.

“In the past, patients would often remain in hospital whilst ward staff tried to organise community care to support their discharge; unaware that community support and care plans were already in place.”

The system has also reduced the number of journeys community staff make to patients’ homes only to find out that they are not there, and the number of calls made to police when staff become concerned because a patient is not opening the door.

The system is underpinned by work by InterSystems and iSoft, which developed an integration framework to connect IT systems developed locally.

Andy Blofield, director of the shared service, told EHI: “We recognised the importance of integration to support the transformation of clinical care pathways many years ago.

"We have been working closely with InterSystems and iSoft to develop a generic architecture upon which we can base the cross-organisational systems which are required today.”

The shared service is now using the new architecture to make the information generated by RAPA available to GPs. This should help them to target patients who need more help at home, in order to reduce the number of hospital admissions.

Bracey added: “The system has generated a lot of interest within the hospital, with many clinical areas wanting to know when their patients attend, including safeguarding children and alcohol dependency.”

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust uses iSoft products for its patient administration system, order communications, emergency department and laboratory information systems. It implemented InterSystems Ensemble integration platform in 2006.

The acute trust is also using the interoperability framework to underpin the development of a portal that will give staff access to all local healthcare applications and the Electronic Staff Record.

Bloefield added: “Having a strategy firmly based on interoperability standards has enabled us to integrate our stakeholder organisations’ systems and services using a controlled, step-based approach.

"This has delivered benefits quickly and iteratively, whilst providing the flexibility to develop generic solutions to specific problems which may then be utilised by others with minimal effort.”