North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust has been selected to be one of four ambulance services to become a Global Digital Exemplar.

The Ambulance trust’s imminent GDE status was revealed by trust chief executive Yvonne Armston at an event on the Great Northern Care Record in Newcastle on Tuesday (28 November).

“We are one of four Ambulance trusts to have been selected to become a GDE,” said Armston. “We are just waiting to be confirmed as a GDE.”

Digital Health News understands that four ambulance trusts have been approached to apply to become Ambulance GDEs, with four expected to be selected.

She said North East Ambulance will focus its GDE efforts on ensuring staff have access to the patient information they need.  “Detailed patient information is key.  Our staff often touch patients for a short time with very little information.”

North East Ambulance is already a participant in the Great Northern Care Record, which through the Medical Interoperability Gateway provides control room staff with access to extracts of the patient’s GP record “that access helps them evaluate risks to patients,” explained Armston.

She said access to the GP record extract has proved particularly helpful for patients with mental health conditions. “The GP record has told control room staff what diagnosis a patient has had and whether there have been any attempts at suicide.”

“For palliative care patients it means being able to identify whether a patient has an emergency healthcare plan.”

She said another key use case is when calls get cut off.  “Often we have calls that get cut off and if that happens a clinician can look into patient’s details.”

Armston gave an example of a patient who had fallen down stairs, and a search had shown that the patient had Alzheimers. It was later found the patient had not taken their medications that morning.

Another example given of the benefit of MIG was a patient who should have been on Anti-coagulants but who’s medications list didn’t include as patient had self-discharged and not been back to GP.

If confirmed, the trust’s GDE bid will see MIG access extended from control room to paramedic staff, Armston explained.

Our aim is to provide access to MIG across all touch points. “Meds management is a huge area for us and we wouldn’t be able to do unless we could work across the whole region.  It’s really exciting to be part of that.”

Speaking on a panel of five chief executives at the launch of the Great Northern Care Record (GNCR) Network, Armston said: “The GNCR Network has offered us an opportunity to access that patient information. I’m really pleased to see a consistent regional approach.”

She added: “It was an influencing factor in pur success as a GDR and being able to quote our GNCR participation.”

She joked that she was not technical but had become a convert “I initially thought MIG was some kind of fighter jet”.