St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) in Ireland has turned its back on 270 years of paper records after launching the country’s first mental health Electronic Health Record (EHR).

The hospital said the digital transformation would enhance its informatics and analytics capabilities, allowing it to deliver better services to users.

Orla Gogarty, Director of ICT at SPMHS, told Digital Health News that they intended to develop “an advance understanding of mental health treatment, care and outcomes.”

The eSwift EHR, provided by Servelec HSC, was introduced to the hospital’s Willow Grove facility on 27 September, before going live at St Edmundsbury Hospital and St Patrick’s University Hospital on 11 October.  The full implementation will be completed when eSwift rolls out to its community Dean Clinics at the end of November.

The new system will provide clinicians at Ireland’s largest independent health service provider with an overview of a service user’s entire healthcare journey, from referral and admission to care, attendance, and discharge.

Inpatient, outpatient and day patient services are all integrated into the system, with information available across all SPMHS facilities.

Gogarty added that the launch of eSwift was one of several “digital initiatives” that will take place at the hospital over the next five years.

An online portal allowing service users to view parts of their health record will be added, as well as online resources to help them with mental health recovery and wellness management.

St Patrick’s Mental Health Services eyes informatics with Ireland’s first EHR

  • First mental health EHR to be deployed in Ireland
  • System will be launched across all SPt Patrick’s clinics by end-November
  • Digital tools will also be provided to help service users with recovery and well-being
  • Hospital eventually plans to harness informatics to modernise mental health support

Gogarty said a key principle of the digital mental health development is to “work with clinicians and service users collaboratively to co-design and field test these technologies so they are relevant, accessible and safe.”

“It is a busy but exciting time for SPMHS as we work to modernise our approach to mental health care and treatment,” Gogarty said.

The benefits of the EHR will be felt by staff, too. eSwift will allow certain process to be automated – such as auto-filling address details in letters to clinic users – meanwhile blood test results, prescriptions and admissions information will be available electronically.

Reports will be generated from the system so that data analysis can be done more easily: showing a list of planned discharges for each day, for example. Additionally lab services, complaints management, business intelligence tools, voice recognition functionality and a billing system are also integrated into the EHR.

According to a report by the Care Quality Commission published 15 November, patients’ experiences of mental health services in England have declined slightly in key areas.

Much like in other areas of healthcare, it has been put forward that the delivery of mental health services could be greatly improved by using computers to analyse large sets of patient data.

Intelligence gleaned from this data could, for example, help clinicians identify which groups of people are most at risk of a particular condition or outcome, and take preventative action accordingly.

There have also been numerous attempts to incorporate AI into mental health support in the form of chatbots.

Speaking to Digital Health News Paul Gilligan, CEO of SPMHS, said: “Keeping and accessing accurate records is paramount to the care of our service users. An electronic record will enhance the data analytics that will help us to improve the experience of services users and the clinical interventions we can plan.”