‘Phenomenal’ amounts of pressure relieved off health staff in West Midlands

Areas in the West Midlands have made a major breakthrough in relation to sharing health and social care data between trusts in a bid to help patients receive care quicker.

Two shared care record collaboratives in the West Midlands have helped to comprise three integrated care systems (ICSs), partnerships of organisations that come together to plan and deliver joined up health and care services, to help share data between suppliers.

person wearing gold wedding band

The latest development allows them to vastly expand the footprint of their shared records, to include data from a combined total of 848 providers, serving 6.1 million people.

In an area of closely connected communities, for whom care frequently crosses ICS boundaries, the new breakthrough is said to be an exciting prospect for the team behind the work.   

Dr James Reed, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist and Chief Clinical Information Officer at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, has been involved in the testing process.

He said: ‘The improvement we could make in care, and the pressure that could be taken off the system in terms of cost, time, and resources, would be just phenomenal.

‘We can only do this by looking at the bigger picture and sharing data over a much wider area.’

Working with supplier InterSystems and Graphnet – they used test data to show interoperability (the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information) between their own system and that used by One Health and Care, the adjoining shared care record serving Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Black Country, and Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

The two collaboratives joined forces and became the West Midlands Shared Care Record during the first Covid-19 national lockdown, holding a first board meeting in April 2020 as the pandemic heightened the need to share information.

‘I recently heard the story of a really ill patient who had to provide their care history more than 20 times a day as they sought emergency help across three different ICS,’ James said. ‘This patient had several serious medical episodes, all while in different ICS areas in the West Midlands. Clinicians at each local Emergency Department had to start from scratch as they didn’t have access to the previous test and test results.’

James added that whilst local ICSs have shared records, they ‘don’t all share patient data with each other.

‘That would have made a huge difference to this patient’s experience, provided a quicker outcome, and save time the clinicians could have spent with other patients. It’s something we’d like to fix now we have the technical capability.’

man in white button up shirt holding black tablet computer

In addition to James highlighting the benefits of ICSs, their positive impact is already becoming apparent in everyday care situations.

 Dr Masood Nazir, a partner at one of 365 GP practices with access to the shred care record through the Collaborative Care Record, said: ‘We know care works best when it’s given as part of a team-based approach, and shared care records are making that much more achievable.

‘But there’s also a real saving for practices in terms of time and resources. For instance, I don’t need to send a patient for a blood test if I can see the same test was completed recently elsewhere.

‘When the patient is sitting in front of me, I no longer need to ask members of my team to call providers about results, discharge summaries or outpatient visits, as this information is available to me. This is better, safer and more timely care for my patients.’

Following several years of locally led development, recommendations of NHS England and the passage of the Health and Care Act 2022, 42 ICSc were established across England on a statutory basis on 1st July 2022.

Both Photos by National Cancer Institute


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