Somerset County Council has gone live with Rio Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system, making it the first local authority in England to deploy an EPR. 

The new EPR will be used by the council to support public health nurses deliver effective care to children and families in Somerset, improve public health and to reduce health inequalities.

Somerset County Council currently provides public health nursing services – including health visiting and school nursing – to 110,000 children in Somerset.

The use of Access HSC’s Rio EPR will improve the efficiency of the service and deliver real-time data to enhance the local authority’s Healthy Child Programme provision.

The solution will automate many of the care planning processes, such as appointment booking, caseload allocation and birth registrations to ensure care and support is available quickly.

It will also allow the council to identify where demand for services is higher, helping to deploy the public health nursing practitioners working for the council more appropriately.

Somerset County Council opted for an EPR rather than a non-clinical care planning solution, so that it would have access to valuable data to help inform the commissioning of services. Staff will be empowered to make data-based decisions on service allocations which will support more timely interventions.

In addition, it integrates with the NHS Spine to support joined up care.

Sarah Bourne, children’s nurse and clinical lead for the project at Somerset County Council, said: “It’s unprecedented for a local authority to provide nursing services like this, so we needed a system that was designed to meet our needs, so we can best serve the children and families of Somerset.

“The system is connected to the NHS Spine, which means we have full visibility of all new births in the county when they happen, as well as receiving notifications when children move to the area, so their care can be administered as quickly as possible and we can deliver the best services and protect those who are most vulnerable.”

Bourne also noted that the data stored in the EPR will help to shape the council’s future services.

She said: “We will be able to look more closely at the different interventions offered to individuals and identify levels of service need on a more granular, local population level, which will help to shape future public health services and make sure they are serving our population as fully as possible.”

The functionality of the EPR has been configured by Access HSC to meet the specific needs of the council. For example, an integrated text messaging service allows parents to book, cancel and reschedule visits, meaning more visits can be conducted.

The system has been live since October 2022, and staff are now able to draw key insights from the data they are inputting.

Steve Sawyer, managing director at Access HSC, said: “Supporting Somerset Council on this unique journey has been inspiring.

“It just goes to show how important it is to be open-minded and to think in innovative ways, as it can have such a positive impact on services. It’s never easy to be the first to try something new, and we’re so pleased that it has been a success.”

Somerset County Council also has access to the Somerset Integrated Digital e-Record (SIDeR), which is designed to ensure that professionals have access to the right information at the right now. It includes the Electronic Palliative and Care Coordination System (EPaCCS) and the SIDeR Shared Care Record (SSCR).