Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is linking its RiO electronic patient record with Emis systems to share data with GP practices.

The mental health trust is working on the first part of the project, which will send electronic discharge summaries to GPs.

The information will be sent through Healthcare Gateway’s Medical Interoperability Gateway, which meets the Interoperability Toolkit and HL7 interoperability standards.

Darren McKenna, the trust’s director of informatics, told EHI that although the trust was concentrating on discharge summaries, there were plans to expand the solution.

“We are planning to go live with it this financial year. We’re focusing on discharge summaries, but I can’t see why we can’t send more information to the GPs – and why GPs [shouldn’t send information to] us- that’s part of the plan in the future,” he said.

”The solution we have developed uses the MIG. One of the benefits of the ITK is that in the future it has the potential to talk to any ITK compliant system. ITK will allow information to be sent to GPas as well.”

McKenna added that with around 80% of GPs in the trust’s area using Emis, he hoped the project would reduce clinical risk.

“When a patient is discharged from hospital is one of the most critical moments in the patient pathway. Getting information to the GP as soon as possible is important,” said McKenna.

“Previously, we would generate the discharge summaries electronically on the system. Then we had to print it out and send it by post to the GP. At the GP practice, it would then get scanned into their system.”

The system also lets the trust maintain a comprehensive audit trail for the transmission of electronic correspondence.

The trust received funding from the Information Challenge Sharing Fund for the project, which has now received ITK accreditation.

The trust has already piloted the solution and is now evaluating the pilot before go-live.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear is one of the largest mental health trusts in the country and has also rolled out more than 1,000 mobile devices to staff so they can access and enter patient data when out in the community.

Last year it implemented a standardised, national template for mental health discharge summaries, a project supported by a clinician at the trust.

McKenna said he was very proud of the trust’s IT team and its achievements. “I like to think we are one of the most progressive trusts in the country,” he said.

“We’ve moved beyond clinical engagement, it’s becoming embedded in the trust. Lots of clinicians are interested in what benefits technology gives. It makes easier to create something that works well for the clinical staff.”