Clinicians at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust are to obtain key patient information at the bedside from local GP practices via Healthcare Gateway’s Medical Interoperability Gateway.

The MIG, developed through a joint partnership between GP system suppliers EMIS and INPS, enables data sharing between GP systems and those of other providers such as hospitals, community units and social care.

The Morecambe initiative will allow doctors at the trust to check if a summary GP record is available and, with the permission of the patient, to access it.

They will use iPads running a modified version of the Lorenzo electronic patient record, for which the trust has been a high-profile early adopter.

Dr Colin Brown, clinical lead at the trust, believes that the system, which is currently live at one GP practice following a pilot, will improve the delivery of care, “making patient safety more efficient.”

“We want to invest in improving clinical performance,” he said. “We have been discussing with our GPs – such as Dr William Lumb, who shares the same view – how to provide information that follows the patients and supports their care.

“At the trust, we want to view the summary of care in the community so we can benchmark the care we provide, such as medication, to what patients have already received.”

Dr Lumb is NHS Cumbria’s chief clinical information officer, and a pioneer of more joined up care. His practice is set to be the next practice to share information with the acute trust via the MIG.

Dr Brown told eHealth Insider that the MIG will provide GPs with “reciprocal connectivity”; giving them access to important information about patients who receive treatment in casualty.

“What we want is a view of the summary care record in the community. Eventually, we would like to import the medication we give for the summary care record,” he added.

The MIG will also be “bolted” onto the trust’s ‘electronic postman’, which Morecambe hopes will allow the trust to deliver all discharge information to GPs electronically.

At the moment, the trust uses a secure file transfer protocol developed in-house to send approximately seven out of ten discharges electronically, with traditional methods such as letters and fax completing the process.

Steve Fairclough, head of informatics at Morecambe, said: “The Lorenzo deployment has given us a great foundation for us to improve and have a greater look at our interoperability.

“We have sent our discharges to GPs electronically in the past, but we have constantly looked for something better and more efficient and so we have integrated and bolted the MIG into our system.”

Morecambe currently straddles two primary care trusts and will be sharing patient information across what will soon become clinical commissioning groups in both the Cumbria and Lancaster and Morecambe regions.

The trust is in the process of putting sharing agreements in place with GP practices in the two areas, the majority of whom are currently using EMIS systems, with the rest migrating over the next 18 months.

The Morecambe Project was discussed at an IT conference in Manchester organised by the Informatics Skills Development Network in the North West. A fuller account of the event has now been published in Insight.