Clinical staff at Richmond’s new extended appointment hubs are able to read and write into patient records held in both Vision and Emis Web practice systems using Vision 360.

INPS and the Richmond GP Alliance believe the hub staff are the first in the country to have both read and write access to patient records from more than one GP system.

The Alliance is running four hubs as part of its seven-day access scheme, which was awarded £2.6 million investment from the Prime Minister’s GP Access Fund in March. They allow every patient in Richmond to book appointments from 8am to 8pm every day, including weekends.

Hub staff use INPS’ interoperability solution Vision 360 to view a patient’s record held within an Emis Web or INPS Vision system, with the patient’s consent. Notes from the consultation are sent back into the GP’s host system for addition to the patient’s clinical record as structured, clinically coded data.

The first hub went live in September and the next three rolled out over the following six weeks.

The GP Alliance has 28 GPs, 22 are Vision users and 6 use Emis systems. Black Pear Software is providing the integration technology to allow the two-way flow of information.

Dr. Darren Tymens, chairman of the RGPA, said the hubs needed a system offering proper interoperability if they were going to generate efficiencies.

“From day one it’s worked pretty well. It was brought in on time and under budget and generally we are extremely happy with how far we have come in such a short period of time.

“We think this new form of interoperability can cut out huge swathes of paperwork and weeks of delay in the way patients are processed through the system.”

He said GPs had to be reassured that only people directly involved in a patient’s care would be able to access their record and that patient consent would be sought at every interaction. More than 6,000 people have so far been treated at the hubs and none have denied record access.

“GPs can see the benefits of getting almost instantaneous feedback on the care offered to their patients in non-practice settings,” said Tymens.

The Alliance is looking at piloting the functionality with its out-of-hours service, outpatients services at local acute providers and providing a more limited view of patient information to pharmacists.

“It’s quite exciting. The potential to transform electronic records across healthcare through this kind of innovation is just enormous,” he said.

INPS chief executive, Max Brighton said the project could not use the Medical Interoperability Gateway from Healthcare Gateway because that provides a read-only view of the record and could not be used for booking appointments.

He added that the company would prefer to do the integration directly with Emis as it is the GPs’ data and it should be able to be shared “with the minimum of fuss”.

“The only current way is to go through another third party integration and that’s offered by Black Pear,” he added.

“The Richmond GP Alliance must be congratulated for being the first organisation to deliver a true end-to-end interoperability solution that really benefits the local community and embraces the spirit of GPs choosing the system they want to use.”