South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is carrying out quality testing on its clinical portal as it prepares to pilot the system with an acute surgical team.

In September, the trust announced it had signed a contract with InterSystems for its HealthShare informatics platform to create an integrated digital care record.

The trust will use the platform as a health information exchange and clinical portal throughout South Devon and Torbay to join up patient information from health and social care.

At the InterSystems Joined-up Health and Care conference, Michael Green, the trust’s chief clinical information officer, told EHI the trust will soon start a six-month pilot of the clinical portal with an acute surgical team.

Green said the trust is currently undertaking clinical testing of the portal to ensure its safety, with a year’s worth of live data being put into the data repository and being tested by the pathology department for any errors.

“There’s not much work out there on the clinical safety of systems that are presenting information to a clinician that’s been generated by a third-party system.”

The HealthShare platform will provide a clinical portal for clinicians across acute, community, mental health, social care and GP surgeries.

It will also serve as an analytics platform, turning the data into useful information to improve patient care and allow trusts to understand which resources and needs are required across care settings.

Green said the idea to develop the portal was an expansion of plans to create an electronic version of the community care record.

Previous attempts to create an electronic version of the community record had been stymied by the lack of appropriate technology to allow live syncing of information across settings as well as a “briefcase mode” for offline access, he said.

Green said information governance has been a significant issue for the trust, which is part of the South Devon and Torbay area chosen as one of 14 integrated care pioneer sites by the Department of Health.

He said the trust “re-invigorated” its information-sharing plans by establishing an information-sharing governance group with no executive roles that was open to anybody to join.

“It was really just to identify who thought they were important, as well as who we thought were important, and get them all sitting around a table.”

Green said the group is preparing to draft a formal information-sharing and governance structure, outlining how the information will be shared and what restrictions will be put in place to ensure data is protected.

 “We need to have some idea around how we use the platform to control access, whether it’s by role or some other method.”

Green said the trust is also preparing to procure a task management and communications system for junior doctors, while it is also about halfway through a move to a digital dictation system across the entire trust.

It also working on a business case to expand its use of the existing Patients Know Best system by registering every patient into the patient record portal and joining it up with the patient administration system for documents like results letters and consent notifications.

“Getting explicit consent is very difficult to achieve, even within a constrained population, so Patients Know Best becomes another platform to send that out.”

Gary Hotine, director of South Devon’s health informatics service, said the trust’s status as an integrated care pioneer has helped it to develop some of its more ambitious plans.

“It has opened some doors for us. Suppliers come to you, particularly when you want to do something innovative because they know that you know what you’re doing.”