The Connecting Care Partnership
Learn about Connecting Care's six years of innovation in information sharing
The Connecting Care Partnership
Changing the way health and social services use information to deliver better outcomes in South West England
Connecting Care is a digital care record system for sharing information in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. It allows instant, secure access to health and social care records.
Jocelyn Palmer, Connecting Care Programme Manager, NHS South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit, speaks at The King's Fund in 2017 to explain how the Connecting Care programme has evolved over time.
Over one million people live in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG). In BNSSG, health and social care is provided by three local authorities, one CCG (clinical commissioning group), three acute trusts, 85 GP practices, three community partnerships, a mental health trust, South Western Ambulance Service plus other commissioned organisations.
These organisations, supported by South Central and West Commissioning Support Unit, have formed a partnership to improve their services with a shared local health and care record and health industry standard interoperability: Connecting Care.
POPULATION: Over 1,000,000
PRODUCTS IMPLEMENTED: Orion Health Open Platform
AWARD-WINNING: EHI Awards 2015 – Best use of IT to support integrated healthcare services
Access to patient information from multiple systems and organisations in a single integrated digital care record
All clinicians and care givers across the community are able to access a holistic view of patient information
Reduced need for patients to repeat themselves, tests to be duplicated, and time to be wasted searching for information
Duplication of consultation, assessment and collecting patient information was impacting how well BNSSG providers were able to support patients and health and wellbeing outcomes.
Patients in BNSSG are often cared for by a number of different organisations, even when receiving treatment for a single condition. Duplication of consultation, assessment and collecting patient information was impacting how well BNSSG providers were able to support patients and health and wellbeing outcomes.
A lack of information was often being cited as a ‘blocker’ to providing high quality care. In the local BNSSG area, we have multiple organisations employing multiple professionals. It is a complex situation but for the person seeking care, but that complexity is irrelevant. It is simply a source of frustration when the professional they encounter does not have timely access to the right information needed to provide the best possible care.
Andy Kinnear, Digital & Transformation Director, South, Central and West CSU
Senior staff in a number of local health and social care organisations became committed to providing a more integrated service to their patients; ensuring that when a patient transfers from one organisation to another, the experience is seamless.
In March 2013, Orion Health was selected from over 40 suppliers to implement an integrated digital care record through its Open Platform technology.
In March 2013, Orion Health was selected from over 40 suppliers to implement an integrated digital care record through its Open Platform technology. Open Platform enables clinicians and other health and care professionals to access patient records across systems, locations, and organisations; and provides the tools to support patient care.
Through the Connecting Care programme, health and social care information is now shared between 23 organisations plus 85 GP surgeries across BNSSG.
Alongside NextGate’s Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI), 19 disparate information systems are integrated, providing a single, seamless view of patient data. Although the patient record is a summary, it includes a wide range of information, including medications, diagnoses, allergies, test results, hospital attendances, social care and mental health contacts, out of hours encounters, community health information, end of life wishes and children’s information from social care to support safeguarding.
Connecting Care also enables document sharing from the three acute trusts, providing quicker access to clinic letters and discharge summaries across all the departments in hospitals; including the Emergency Department and a range of services including Anti- Natal, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Neurosurgery, Physiotherapy, Speech and Language Therapy and Cancer.
Game changer! Negates the need to contact GP by about 90%
Team Leader, Dementia Wellbeing Service
By sharing health and social care information across the community, authorised professionals are able to access meaningful, real-time information centred around the patient in a single view, allowing care to be provided in the most appropriate setting. Professionals no longer need to log in to several different systems to access information. They are also now able to access information from systems that were previously unavailable to them. For example, through integration with EMIS, GPs in the region are able to access the record in one click. Through integration with Medway, professionals at Bristol University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust are able to access that same record for a holistic view of patient information.
It was amazing having this resource over the long weekend. I was able to access information about a patient’s usual insulin regime when she was severely unwell and not able to communicate with us.
Pharmacist, North Bristol Trust
Working at the forefront of interoperability, in 2018 Connecting Care became the first organisation in England to implement a CareConnect API. This links Orion Health’s Open Platform and the Cyber Media drug and alcohol system, Theseus, used by Bristol City Council. This functionality aims to reduce drug-related deaths for the homeless and vulnerable by bringing information on prescriptions for Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) drugs into the integrated digital care record.
Emlyn Jones, Connecting Care Technical Lead speaks about the first use of a Care Connect API
Results & Future Developments
The Connecting Care portal went live in December 2013 and today has nearly 6,000 users across a variety of care settings.
The initial pilot went live in 2013. The Connecting Care Programme now has nearly 6,000 users from clinicians, nurses, crisis teams, occupational therapists, GPs, pharmacists, social workers, care of the elderly and out of hours GPs to pathologists, anaesthetists, ambulance and A&E staff across 23 organisations. 8,000 licenses have now been purchased in preparation for adding the newly electronic children's services who will be using eRedBook.
“Users tell us that it’s helping them make much more efficient use of their time,” explains Andy Kinnear. “It means that they have the information they need at their fingertips which is enabling them to make the best decisions for patients – often avoiding e.g. hospital admissions. The overall result is that we are saving time and money and that patients are receiving better care.”
BNSSG has a strong digital roadmap planned for the next five years. Future developments for Connecting Care include the ambition of reaching their goal for 10,000 authorised professional users for the integrated digital care record and the continued development of document sharing.
Delivery between organisations will be developed to improve transfers of care, the sharing of care plans and introduce new organisations and data feeds to the Connecting Care record.
At last GPs whether "in-hours" or "out of hours", now have a reliable, quick, efficient way of knowing whether the patient in front of them is receiving opiate substitutes from drug workers outside practice based shared care. In the same way, other clinicians in hospitals can be aware of this source of prescription. This has the real potential of saving lives and reducing drug related deaths.
Lead GP, Homeless Health Service
Historically information would be sent via second class post and land with the GP in 3-4 days. It is now in Connecting Care and in the GP practices before the patient has even crossed the car park.
ED Consultant, North Bristol NHS Trust
Information in one place has not only improved the efficiency of our work, it also allows us to practice more accurately and safely. We have spent many hours in the past trying to get basic information not provided at referral. The ability to access this at the touch of a button has been critical in allowing us to expedite well informed clinical decisions, that often need to formulate risk with levels of complexity. I cannot imagine practising effectively without this level of information now.
Team Manager, A&E Liaison
I am a big fan of Connecting Care! When it comes to complex and challenging calls the wealth of extra information it can bring to make a safe, appropriate and informed decision is invaluable. It is easy and quick to use with the patient on the phone.”
Assessment Co-ordinator, 111 Service
I've found it so useful. Psychiatrists can feel outside of the loop of physical health investigations and medications, but they are so important to mental health care, and can help safe prescribing and good diagnosis.
Consultant Psychiatrist, Mental Health Trust