GP practices in Bath and North East Somerset are using a mobile solution provided by Targett Business Technology to support weekend services.
TBT is providing its Riviam tool to Bath and North East Somerset Enhanced Medical Services, a not-for-profit organisation that provides care and clinical services to local patients on behalf of all 27 GP practices in the area.
Riviam allows doctors and nurses working in a community setting to access secure patient information on a mobile device. In this case staff will make use of encrypted Android Google Nexus 9 tablets using EE’s 4G data service.
Amanda Simpson, project director at BEMS+, told Digital Health News that her organisation began to work with TBT on developing Riviam after being commissioned by Bath and North East Somerset CCG and NHS England to test out new ways of working, including the provision of a weekend service for vulnerable patients.
The service was launched in March this year as a two-year pilot and is led by a group of GPs across the region. They decide every Friday which patients are suitable for treatment at the weekend, after which Riviam sends all appointments to the tablets.
A GP can then review the patient list on a Saturday morning and refer the patients on to a colleague, see them in their homes, or get in touch by phone.
Once care has been provided, the GP completes an outcome form that specifies what the next step in care should be, such a discharge or a follow-up phone call. This data is sent to a central administrator who can arrange necessary appointments.
Simpson said that after six weeks of using the service, the BEMS+ was receiving around 45 referrals every weekend, although it has “the capacity to see more patients”.
She said an extra benefit was the opportunity to support early discharge from hospitals, which can be reluctant to discharge on a Friday, because of issues with accessing care at a weekend. She said hospitals now had a “safety net” in the form of the service.
Regarding the patient information accessible via Riviam, Simpson said they were able to build a patient record in the system using a set of templates to pull data from the patient’s existing GP record in Emis. She added that the next step was to fully integrate the system with Emis.
A TBT spokesperson confirmed that the company is trying to integrate Riviam with Emis and the other major GP patient record supplier TPP as part of the GPSOC interfacing and expects to be fully integrated in three months.
Riviam also allows users to send secure messages to each other and to record and upload videos, photos and audio files to the Riviam cloud. Simpson said there were no plans to use the audio abilities at BEMS+, although clinicians may share photos of physical afflictions such as wounds.
She added that the system also incorporates Google Maps so doctors can plan the best route to make the most effective use of their time.
Prime Minister David Cameron made a speech earlier this week in which he committed to providing a seven-day NHS service that would be supported by new technologies.
Simpson voiced a note of concern around the plans, saying the NHS should make sure any service redesign is in line with what patients “really want to see” rather than just having current GP services open at weekends considering the “huge issues” around the number of GPs in the country.
“What we’ve done is consider what patients would most benefit from a weekend service,” she said.