GP federations are testing technology to allow them to share and add to patient records in real time across different local practices.
Emis Health is collaborating with GP federations in Cheshire, Manchester and Islington on a new use of its clinical system Emis Web that allows clinicians from any practice in the federation to view and add to a patient’s medical record in real time, provided the patient gives consent.
Care will be coordinated through a single shared record controlled by the patient’s registered practice, which will be in charge of the formularies, protocols and templates that can be used by other organisations.
Other practices and clinical care services in that federation can then book patients in for an appointment via a central system and treat them at any practice or other location.
All practices in the federation can also add notes in real time to the medical record. The updated record can be viewed by the patient’s own GP at any time.
One of the GPs involved in the testing stage is Dr Colin Tate, director of The Manchester Primary Care Partnership, a collection of three GP federations in Manchester covering 92 GP practices.
He told Digital Health News that the availability of patient records across the federation was of “paramount importance”.
“Through the use of data sharing agreements to access the patients’ record, the clinicians have the ability to view/record entries across multiple sites, therefore allowing the federation to offer a complete range of services to the whole registered population of Manchester as opposed to a limited number of services that individual practices are in a position to offer.”
He added that the new system for cross-organisational appointments has proven “very useful”.
By the end of the testing stage, Tate said a successful outcome would include a “clinical system which seamlessly enables clinicians to manage patient diagnosis, referrals, prescribing and most importantly prevention”.
Dr Neil Paul, a full time partner at Sandbach GPs in Cheshire, was involved during the early stages of the project’s development.
He said that some parts of the service, such as being able to book appointments in other practice’s systems “look attractive if they work”.
He added that there was discussion about the ability for “offsite reception/telephone answering,” although he wasn’t certain if this could allow any receptionist in a federation to be able to answer the phone for any practice in the group.
Paul also mentioned some challenges, including the requirement to use the templates of the home practice, which a GP might not be familiar with, and the apparent lack of an auditable record that is kept locally.
Emis Health’s managing director of primary care and commissioning Matt Murphy said the technology will “enable new ways of working in primary care”.
“This vital tool is not only being welcomed by federations looking to offer extended hours working, but also by other healthcare economies that are finding new ways of working to offer better, more efficient care to patients.”
Emis Health has plans to expand use of the technology further so that Emis Web can integrate directly with other major clinical systems in order to join up care across primary and community settings.