Somerset switches on patient record viewer - and more efficient emergency medicine

29 Jun 2017

Somerset clinicians providing frontline emergency care now have instant access to the GP medical records of half a million patients in the county, allowing them fast and efficient access to information that can improve care and save time.

More than 500 urgent and emergency care staff working across A&E and other acute medical units in Somerset are using the EMIS Web EPR Viewer to view crucial information in patients’ GP medical records.

With patient consent, the viewer gives clinicians  24-hour real-time access to primary care records held by GPs, allowing them to securely access information that can enable safer care, identify current patient medications and allergies, reduce unnecessary emergency admissions and avoid duplicate tests.

Previously, urgent or emergency care clinicians relied on contacting GP practices directly to obtain this information, or made clinical decisions based on the patient’s presenting condition and information from the patient.

The EMIS Web EPR Viewer is already being used on average 45 times per day in Somerset, some 11,000 times since the original go live date.

“I find that access to EMIS EPR Viewer saves a lot of time, particularly out of hours”

Dr Philip Rowburrey, accident and emergency clinician

Somerset accident and emergency clinician Dr Philip Rowburrey said: “I check a patient’s recent consultations to try and establish if their presenting complaint is acute or something that has previously been investigated by primary care. It is becoming a ‘must check’ when we see a patient now and I thoroughly recommend that this continues.”

Uses and benefits include:

  • prompt diagnosis
  • improved patient safety and quality of experience
  • reduced hospital stay
  • avoiding unnecessary tests, for example, blood tests already carried out
  • checking patient history to ensure proposed treatments and tests are appropriate
  • checking previous referrals and appointments.

Before the viewer was deployed, information sharing agreements were established with the 69 EMIS Web GP practices in Somerset.  EMIS Web is set to be the GP practice system of choice across Somerset by the end of 2017.

EMIS Web EPR Viewer provides a read-only view, requires patient consent at the point of care and records in a clear audit trail who has viewed any patient’s primary care record.

“We recognise the value of clinicians having access to the breadth and depth of patient primary care records, which date back much further than all other digital records.”

Richard Greaves, Somerset Integrated Digital electronic Record (SIDeR) interoperability programme manager

Richard Greaves, the Somerset Integrated Digital electronic Record (SIDeR) interoperability programme manager for Somerset CCG said: “It is best practice for clinicians to check a patient’s medical history, but it is not always something that is easy for them to do, the EMIS EPR Viewer simplifies that process dramatically.  Information contained in the primary care record can have a significant impact on how the patient is treated in any care setting.

“It made sense to work with EMIS Health because they support the vast majority of GP practices in Somerset. They came with the same enthusiasm as we had to make EMIS Web EPR Viewer work in Somerset, and helped us to overcome the technical and operational challenges often faced with a new technology project in a clinical setting.”

Duane Lawrence, Managing Director at EMIS Health, said: “Somerset is a progressive county, breaking new ground in demonstrating the benefits of consensual data sharing.

“It was a privilege for EMIS Health to support them in achieving their goal of putting vital information within easy reach of clinicians delivering frontline medical care. We now look forward to supporting Somerset in the next phase of this deployment and would be delighted to share our insight from this project.”

The initiative’s initial success has already led to plans to roll out the viewer to all clinically-led and clinically-regulated services within Somerset from summer 2017. This includes other care providers such as hospices and those based just over the county borders.  It could eventually be available to 2,000+ clinicians.

Dr Philip Rowburry