GPs and community services in Cumbria are streaming live into a shared patient record that can be viewed in some out-of-hours providers via Healthcare Gateway’s medical interoperability gateway.

NHS Cumbria hosted an interoperability day last week to showcase its work on sharing patient information between services.

NHS Cumbria chief clinical information officer Dr William Lumb said the area’s population was ageing and suffering from more long term conditions.

He said paper processes could support the old way of doing things, but could not support the modernised NHS structure and methods for delivering healthcare.

In 2008, he embarked on an IT project in Cumbria with a number of aims. These included migrating services to EMIS Web and developing an interoperability network involving community services, acute trusts and out-of-hours services.

Dr Lumb argued that as 85% of healthcare is provided by GP or community services, it made sense to start there when moving to an electronic patient record system.

Two thirds of GPs in Cumbria have an EMIS system and one third of those have upgraded to EMIS Web.

Three quarters of community services in Cumbria are also live with EMIS Web Community and all are now streaming information to a shared record via EMIS Connect.

This record can be accessed via a button on the clinician’s normal screen view with the patient’s consent.

Those organisations not on EMIS can view a shared record via the MIG. This pulls data from EMIS and INPS practices and creates a read only view of the patient record.

The MIG has already been deployed in Carlisle where out-of-hours services can view a patient record – updated in realtime – embedded in their Adastra system. The gateway is due go live across Cumbria in mid-May.

Programme lead and director of Castlerigg Consulting James Blacklock, said figures from Carlisle showed information sharing was appropriate in 20-25% of cases when people attended out-of-hours.

Where it was appropriate is had a “very high clinical benefit." Other services will go live with the MIG over the next year.

Acute trusts using A&E system Symphony have been configured to use the MIG and have gone through live testing.

Clinicians at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust – who are using using Lorenzo as part of the National Programme for IT in the NHS – will be able see if a GP record is available on their system and ask a patient if they can view it.

Testing has been successfully completed on sending electronic discharges from the region’s acute and mental health trusts to GPs via the MIG which will embed into the GP workflow.

Blacklock predicted that all discharges would be sent electronically within three to six months and added that plans are in place to feed other information from acute trusts back to primary care.

In areas where a third party is not connected to the MIG they will be able to see the shared record via a secure web-based portal.

Blacklock said the portal was due to go live at the end of this month in some hospital inpatient units that were still using paper records.

He added that all GP practices using EMIS were due to be upgraded to Web as part of an intensive roll out plan over the coming six months.

You can read more about this project in our Insight section.