A single, integrated clinical portal linking primary, acute, community and social care will be rolled out across Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.
After a successful trial of InterSystems’ HealthShare with the trust’s heart failure team, the portal is expected to be deployed gradually from towards the end of this year through to May next year.
Gary Hotine, the trust’s health informatics service director, said HealthShare will initially provide an integrated view of seven of the trust’s core systems, including clinical and discharge letters, the patient administration system, radiology, pathology, and parts of Patients Know Best patient portal.
However, over time this will be expanded to include many of the roughly 100 systems the trust uses. “It allows us to integrate a whole lot of clinical systems into one place.”
In addition to providing a single log-in to a wide array of clinical data, some of HealthShare’s native functionality would also improve care. For example, it will enable an alert system that informs clinicians when a patient interacts with other health and social care services.
Joanne Passmore, a heart failure specialist nurse at the trust, said this function had been crucial in improving care for patients with heart problems.
“HealthShare alerts us if any of our heart failure patients are admitted to hospital, allowing us to speak with them and their wider care team… As a result, patients receive continuous, informed and high-quality care by everyone they come into contact with.”
The roll-out of the clinical portal is an important milestone of the trust, and its predecessors, which have been held up as exemplar of integrated care but have sometime struggled to deploy supporting IT.
In March 2013, the now-defunct Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust shelved a £3.8 million five-year contract with New Zealand company Simpl to deliver an integrated community record, after the company’s UK branch went into administration.
In November 2013, the Torbay and South Devon area was selected by NHS England one of the first wave of 13 integrated care pioneers. NHS England said at the time that the area “already has well-co-ordinated or integrated health and social care”.
But an independent report written in September last year, released in May this year, found that many of the trust involved as integrated care pioneers were “struggling and facing IT issues”.
In October last year, Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust merged with South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, to create the current trust, the first fully integrated care organisation in the country covering acute, community and social care.
Hotine said the Simpl deployment had been “not fully successful” partly because it tried to re-create records on a vast scale.
“Part of that knowledge and experience led us to agree that the way forward was a clinical portal with best of breed integration.”
The development of the integration had been informed by heavy clinical input, led by the trust’s chief clinic information officer, Michael Green.
Hotine said that input had been crucial in testing integration and making sure the system came together in a way that did not skew clinical decision making. “If we had done this in traditional IT terms there would have been hazards.”
He hopes that, eventually, HealthShare will enable record access to adjoining trusts, such as Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, which often treat the same patients.
Mark Palmer, country manager for the UK at InterSystems, said the company was proud of its role in integrating care in Torbay and South Devon.
“In Torbay and South Devon, HealthShare is playing an increasingly important role in bringing together the health and social care community.”
The initial deployment has been funded though the ‘Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards Technology Fund’ – more often known as ‘tech fund one’.