NHS Western Isles is working on an electronic patient record project that will integrate records across its healthcare services.

The Scottish health board’s ‘eMRec’ project will join up patient case notes from hospitals, mental health, community services and GP practices in one system.

Jon Harris, head of IT at the health board, told EHI that because the Western Isles cover a lot of territory, 15 islands, stretching over 130 miles, it was particularly important to have a single patient record.

“We have got good systems in place, but they are all in silos. The case notes aren’t always in the right place at the right time,” he said.

“We’re looking at getting the right information available to clinicians at the point of care. That’s regardless of location.

“Staff are very aware that they are sometimes looking at an incomplete record. If we can deliver the case notes electronically, no one misses out on the information.”

The system will be delivered by information management solution company, Plumtree Group, and will integrate with systems already in place at GP practices and hospitals, including the Topas patient administration system.

“We’re not looking to plug in massive systems. We are going to benefit from the systems we are already using,” said Harris.

“All systems will be able to integrate with the electronic patient record. Our patient management system will be integrated; The GP systems in place are also modern and fit for purpose for this.”

The health board will also be implementing digital scanning and order communications from the company.

“We’re looking to go live with the first phase of the project in autumn this year,” said Harris, adding that the go-live will be across the health board, although the details are still being established.

He said that because it was a locally driven project, it was up to the health board to produce it the way it wanted.

“We’re quite enthused by the project. It looks like something that’s hard to do, but we believe it’s definitely achievable. We do things a slightly different way up here in Scotland,” he said

NHS Western Isles already uses mobile devices such as iPods and iPads for clinical handovers and access to its Cortix patient safety system, supplied by Cambric.

“We are looking to put the patient records on mobile devices as well in the future,” said Harris.

He added that all clinical staff involved with a patient will be able to view and contribute to the patient record.

“I’ve been impressed with people’s willingness to do this. We are in the process of working with the GPs to set up an appropriate data sharing agreement.”

The health board is also considering the option of letting patients view their own records, but Harris said that was a plan for the future.

“By removing paper and opening it up electronically, it’s a whole new world. It’s safe to say we are still feeling our way.”