Health organisations across the Wirral will start sharing patient information electronically following the deployment of Cerner’s electronic clinical exchange platform, Health Information Exchange.

The initial stage of the sharing project, which includes Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Wirral Health Informatics Service, will provide shared views of information between six GP practices and community and acute hospitals.

Speaking to eHealth Insider, Luke Readman, director of information at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, said the HIE will work in tandem with Healthcare Gateway’s Medical Interoperability Gateway. The MIG was developed by EMIS and INPS to support information sharing in primary care.

Readman said that one of the big challenges facing healthcare is providing clinicians with the “most up-to-date and appropriate information” while they are treating patients.

“Quite often at hospitals we only have access to the information collected and stored at the hospital and, similarly, GPs only have access to the information they collect in their practices,” he said.

“The real question is how do we make the information electronically available at the right place and at the right time. This can often be challenging, as many local systems have a lot of rich clinical content; so we have chosen to approach this by using these integration mechanisms.”

The first phase of the project, which is to go live imminently, will see Cerner Hub electronic data interchange messaging deployed.

This will mean that clinical data from the hospital’s Cerner Millennium electronic patient record system can be sent directly to EMIS systems in use in primary care.

The system will replace the traditional method of communication between the hospital and GPs; paper records, which GPs then had to scan into their systems.

Readman said the eventual aim is to provide clinicians with a “real time virtual record” for patients. The subsequent phases of the project will give hospital clinicians access to the GP’s patient record from within Wirral Hospital’s Millennium EPR.

“The big win will come in the second stage of this process, which is set to go live by December. When somebody enters A&E, it will be really helpful to know what medicines that individual has been taking,” Readman said. “This helps you focus on what has happened in the recent care of that patient.”

Patrick Reed, director of information at Wirral Health Information Service, said the HIE is acting as clinical exchange platform, which will allow existing EPR systems across the health economy “to talk to each other.”

“For the Wirral, this means that care providers within acute, community, mental health, urgent and social services will be able to access an aggregated view of the most up to date information on a patient taken from a broad spectrum of care providers contributing to the HIE,” he added.

Matthew Swindells, senior vice president of global consulting at Cerner said: “HIE is an exciting development to improve quality and reduce unnecessary waste in a hard pressed NHS.

“The sharing of clinical information sets the foundation for a longer term strategy that moves away from the traditional costly model of ‘present and react’ to a more efficient and effective ‘predict and prevent’ model of healthcare delivery that puts the patient at the centre of care,” he added.