Dr Adrian Heald, a Consultant Physician in Cheshire and Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, reflects on his session at the recent EHI Live conference talking about the importance of sharing patient care records.

I recently left the end of the EHI Live Birmingham event to go back to work as the on-call Acute Medicine Consultant at my hospital in Cheshire feeling both inspired but also challenged by the possibilities that were presented at the conference.

A real message that came through from the event is that access to shared digital information is transforming the way that we work in the NHS – and this is particularly relevant in the hospital setting.

Hospital access to the GP summary record is already proving to be incredibly useful. For example, a recent patient came in with a high blood pressure reading of 170/80 but we were able to check back at their GP records to see that just a few days before their blood pressure was at a normal level. Having this information saved time both for the health care professionals and the patient as the clinical decision making process was much more efficient, sparing both time and additional concern or worry for the patient.

At the EHI Live conference, I was invited to speak during a session hosted by Tech UK on technology in care and I spoke about the Cheshire Care Record, a collaboration between all GP, hospital, community, mental health and social care services provided across Cheshire. This record will bring in data from across all of the NHS and social care providers and once up and running will aim to change our mindset in relation to the way we work with patient information.

A highlight of the Cheshire Care Record is that it will also allow Paramedics from the North West Ambulance Service to also be able to view patient records, whereas they previously had to ‘work blind’ with emergency call-outs having no ability to look into the patient’s medical records.

Additionally, patient’s using home monitoring services also want the information gathered through the health monitoring system to additionally be shared across these records, as again this rich data will allow health and social care professionals to be able to do the best job possible for the patient due to having a very clear understanding of the current health of the individual.

There is so much scope for sharing this patient data, it can help improve the efficiency of the care service and provide a better overall experience for patients. Change is slow to facilitate but I believe that we can do it, and indeed we have to do it in order to ensure that the NHS is viable for the future.

Tech UK published their paper ‘Personal Digital Care’ at the EHILive session, download it here.