Patients in Devon are now able to self-manage certain aspects of their sexual health, as Devon Sexual Health Services has implemented Inform Health’s electronic patient record (EPR) system and the patient-facing Personal Health Record (PHR).

The PHR will initially allow people in Devon to book and amend appointments for contraception, sexual health and HIV services online. Longer term, it is hoped it will enable patients to manage other areas of their sexual health – for example, contraception and STI testing by post and self-taken histories.

Dr Jack Shaw, consultant physician in genitourinary and HIV medicine, Devon Sexual Health, said: “Allowing appropriate patients to self-manage low risk aspects of their sexual health brings obvious benefits in terms of providing greater choice, autonomy and convenience, while freeing up clinic capacity for more complex patients. Like all services, we’re facing huge demand and it’s essential that making an appointment doesn’t form a barrier to people accessing the care they need.

“Our initial concept for the PHR was to create a digital receptionist and this meant matching PHR’s algorithms with the way our reception staff work and making sure our triage process was able to allocate appropriate patients to appropriate appointments to optimise clinic resources.”

The digital transformation project will help to improve patient access and autonomy and it is hoping it will  also deliver significant efficiency savings for the service. The solution has been designed to meet Devon Sexual Health Service’s bespoke needs and to replace three separate EPRs that were in use across multiple clinics.

The Inform Health solutions are now live at the Exeter and Barnstaple clinics, with Torbay expected to follow suit early this year.

Shaw added: “As an integrated sexual health service with a HIV clinic and psychological therapy offering, we needed a system that could not only make accessing appointments quick and easy for patients now but one that speaks to all facets of our patient offering. PHR’s scalability will future-proof our service in line with the digital direction of travel of the local commissioning strategy – something we knew was impossible with our incumbent system.”

The new PHR for Devon, comes just six months after Essex and Thurrock sexual health services gained its PHR from Inform Health.