Somerset clinicians providing frontline emergency care now have instant access to GP medical records of half a million patients in the county.

More than 500 urgent and emergency care staff working across A&E and other acute medical units in Somerset are using the EMIS Web EPR Viewer, to view crucial information in patients’ GP medical records.

Musgrove Park Hospital A&E clinician Philip Rowburrey said he finds that access to EMIS EPR Viewer saves a lot of time, particularly out of hours.

“I also check a patient’s recent consultations to try and establish if their presenting complaint is acute or something that has previously been investigated by primary care”, Rowburrey said. “It is becoming a ‘must check’ when we see a patient now and I thoroughly recommend that this continues.”

With patient consent, the viewer gives clinicians 24-hour real-time access to primary care records held by GPs, allowing them to securely access information which helps identify current patient medications and allergies, reduce unnecessary emergency admissions and avoid duplicate tests.

Previously, urgent or emergency care clinicians relied on contacting GP practices directly to obtain this information, or made clinical decisions based on the patient’s presenting condition and information from the patient.

Uses and benefits include:

  • Prompt diagnosis
  • Improved patient safety and quality of experience
  • Reduced hospital stay
  • Avoiding unnecessary tests, for example, blood tests already carried out
  • Checking patient history to ensure proposed treatments and tests are appropriate
  • Checking previous referrals and appointments

The EMIS Web EPR Viewer is already being used on average 45 times per day in Somerset, about 11,000 times since the original go live date.

Before the viewer was deployed, information sharing agreements were established with the 69 EMIS Web GP practices in Somerset.

EMIS Web EPR Viewer provides a read-only view, requires patient consent at the point of care and records in a clear audit trail who has viewed any patient’s primary care record.

Richard Greaves, the Somerset Integrated Digital electronic Record (SIDeR) interoperability programme manager for Somerset CCG said: “It is best practice for clinicians to check a patient’s medical history, but it is not always something that is easy for them to do, the EMIS EPR Viewer simplifies that process dramatically.”

The initiative’s initial success has already led to plans to roll out the viewer to all clinically-led and clinically-regulated services within Somerset from summer 2017. This includes other care providers such as hospices and those based just over the county borders.  It could eventually be available to more than 2,000 clinicians.