Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is commercialising a new electronic system to support the delivery of patient consent to care and treatment.

The trust will work with e-Health Innovations, part of the Wellbeing Software Group, to market the eConsent tool, which was conceived by consultant surgeon Stephen Lake and has been in place at the trust for nearly eight years.

Speaking to Digital Health News, Lake said the initial aim of eConsent was to reduce the paper workload of doctors, saying it was “ridiculous” that the forms had to be handwritten

“I explained to my IT team that ideally I would just sign my name and everything else would be automatic,” he said.

The trust’s IT department developed a system that uses standardised templates that can pull data from the patient administration system and create pre-populated forms based on the patient and the procedure. Patients also receive a related information leaflet.

Lake believes now is the right time to market the product due to growing pressure from the Care Quality Commission and other bodies regarding the number of handwritten forms that do not contain full information on consent.

The system has had a significant impact at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals, removing all instances of illegible words and instances of forms completed by a non-competent healthcare professional.

In addition, since the introduction of eConsent, the percentage of audited medical notes with documented evidence that the benefits and risks of a procedure had been discussed with the patient improved from 49% to 100%.

The proportion of consent forms that record the date that consent was obtained and have a patient’s NHS number has also climbed to 100%.

Lake said the trust chose Wellbeing Software Group to work with as they needed an IT partner with a “footprint in the NHS” to develop the system further.

He added that a certain amount of work on the tool is still necessary, including the ability to integrate with a wider variety of patient administration systems.

“That’s the challenge – there is not one system across the NHS. We may need to do individual tweaking at trusts.”

Other NHS trusts that have recently commercialised IT tools developed in-house include University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which is working with Intouch with Health to sell an online referral system, and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, which announced in March this year a deal with Bellis-Jones Hill to market information dashboards.