Patients of Essex Sexual Health Service and Thurrock Sexual Health Service are now able to securely book and amend their appointments, as well as receive results online and order STI testing kits, as Provide has implemented Inform Health’s Personal Health Record.

The Inform Sexual Health electronic patient record (EPR) is already used in the two services’ clinics. Now social enterprise, Provide – who delivers the services – has further enhanced access for patients with the new Personal Health Record (PHR).

The PHR allows patients to book new appointments or amend existing ones; receive their test results online; order STI testing kits and condoms by post or for collection; and complete triage interactions to be directed to the most appropriate level of care.

Since implementation there have been 7,669 PHR accounts created by patients, 3,256 triage interactions recorded and 2,408 postal testing kit orders placed.

The information in the PHR is linked with the Inform Sexual Health application, which underpins the entire service. This delivers a unified information flow, meaning healthcare staff can make decisions around focusing resources and developing services with this vital information in mind.

Amie Sammons, integrated sexual health team lead – Mid Essex Quadrant, Essex Sexual Health Service, said: “Since the PHR launch we’ve seen a sharp rise in patients accessing services who’ve never engaged previously, particularly from our more rural communities.”

She continued: “Naturally, removing barriers to access has caused a spike in demand, which can be challenging of course, but it also demonstrates that what we’re doing is working. We’re reaching more people, giving patients more choice. We’re also able to prioritise more complex cases, as PHR is helping to manage more simple patient interactions.”

Future collaborations

Future phases of the project will introduce functionality to support self-managed STI treatment, contraception and partner notification; image and document share; mobile device check-in; and self-taken histories. In addition, enhanced collaboration with third-party providers will also be possible via the Inform Healthcare Partner module.

Kez Spelman, Provide’s director for innovation and community resilience, said: “What’s especially exciting is how Inform Health’s technology can support our service to take the leap from concept to delivery where enhanced collaboration is concerned.

“Community pharmacies represent a clear opportunity to expand access and offer more choice to patients, whether that’s collecting contraception or being tested for STIs. However, without communication, accountability, and governance, it’s difficult to make a meaningful and measurable impact.

“The Inform Sexual Health application with the PHR provides the underpinning connexion, governance, and assurance to make increased collaboration like this possible, which in turn makes improving access and addressing inequalities more achievable.”

The Essex Sexual Health Service and Thurrock Sexual Health Service are funded by the NHS, and delivered by a number of partners. Provide is leading a collaboration of organisations, including East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, HLP Ltd and Terrence Higgins trust, in order to deliver a service that provides a full range of sexual health services for the local community.

Earlier this year Inform Health announced a series of enhancements to its HIV offering, which are saving clinic resources and improving the patient experience.