The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust will roll out mobile access to the NHS Summary Care Record for ambulance crews within three months, as part of the implementation of its Ortivus electronic patient record system.

South Central says it will be the first ambulance trust in England to give paramedics electronic access to the SCR, ensuring they have constant access to real-time patient information at the scene.

The SCR will be embedded into the Ortivus EPR, allowing crews to view the patient’s record using mobile devices once the patient has given their consent.

The Ortivus system will access the SCR via Quicksilva’s orQestra Spine Mini-Service, as well as the Personal Demographics Service.

Georgie Cole, a senior project manager at South Central, told EHI News the trust spent a significant amount of time working with the Swedish EPR supplier on software configuration.

“We had one of our clinicians working alongside them to make sure it was really suitable for our staff.”

Cole said the Ortivus EPR is now rolled out across half of the trust, with the remaining half due to be completed by the end of April.

She said the SCR functionality, which is still being tested, will make it easier for paramedics to discover a patient’s medications or allergies, as well as other relevant information. They will also be able to use the Personal Demographics Service to identify a patient’s doctor and ask about their condition.

“This is a massive thing for crews, because they’re used to working blind with no information at all.”

Cole said crews will only access the SCR with a patient’s consent, while an emergency override for situations where the patient cannot respond will be audited by the trust to ensure it is used appropriately.

As part of the Ortivus implementation, tablets are being rolled out to staff so they can access the EPR remotely.

Cole said the trust hopes to eventually give crews access to the NHS Choose and Book Directory of Services so they can reduce unnecessary A&E admissions by taking patients to an appropriate healthcare provider.

South Central is still working with the Health and Social Care Information Centre on the SCR functionality, but Cole said it hopes to roll it out in a “big bang” by June once the Ortivus EPR is live across the trust.

Gayna Hart, Quicksilva’s managing director, said the work is “an exciting step in the right direction” by giving ambulance crews access to patient data electronically rather than via a phone call.

“By using this information sooner, paramedics will be much better placed to provide care adapted to the immediate situation. It makes sense to utilise the information available on the NHS Spine through a secure connection to ensure patient care is of the highest quality, especially in a situation where every second counts.”

The service is being introduced on a vehicle by vehicle roll out basis which is due to be completed in in early 2015.

Ortivus was chosen as the preferred bidder by South Central in September 2013, along with two other southern ambulance trusts.

However, the South East Coast Ambulance Service later pulled out of the procurement, leaving just South Central and the South Western Ambulance Service.

South Central was due to run a pilot phase for the Ortivus EPR last June, but it was delayed by a month with a spokesperson citing “unforeseen circumstances”.

“This complex system involves significant integration and business change.  It is vitally important that we get this right.”