NHS Lanarkshire is aiming to have a full electronic patient record in two years, underpinned by its clinical portal.

The Scottish health board went live with its Orion clinical portal “a few years ago”, but is now in the process of “doing the game changer” and moving towards an EPR and a paperlite environment.

Barry McAllister, the health board’s head of systems, told EHI that in the last few months there has been a “real drive” to get rid of paper. Earlier this month, paper records were “switched off” in outpatient clinics.

“The real focus in the last few months has on the ground with clinic staff and putting a lot of effort into improving the work flows,” he said.  

Clinicians now have access to clinical encounters, correspondence, laboratory and radiology reports, the patient management system, electronic case notes and GP summary information through the portal.

McAllister said that in the future, GPs will also be able to access the portal “to avoid unnecessary referrals.”

NHS Lanarkshire decided to move forward with the portal after the Scottish Government undertook a survey in 2009, which asked clinicians to rank data items in order to prioritise what is needed for the best patient care.

The results of that survey underpinned the health board’s approach to give clinicians a single point of access to patient records.

“The key focus has been to ensure it’s been clinically driven, and it evolves with the needs of the clinicians,” said McAllister.

The health board has also undertaken a big project of scanning all legacy case notes in order to get rid of paper.

“We’ve taken the approach to scan all legacy case notes and we have to get through the hurdle of scanning,” he said.

“They won’t be accessed by the majority of staff, but when they are needed, it will be much easier to look them up through the portal.”

The portal can be accessed from anywhere in the health board, on desktops, mobile devices and computers on wheels. “There’s no waiting about for notes to be found,” said McAllister.

NHS Lanarkshire will continue to switch off paper in stages, making sure clinicians have time to feed back before moving on to a new section of the health board. “We will have a full EPR in two years,” he said.