Practices across the country could be in a position to share GP records with secondary care providers as early as March, Management in Practice understands.
GP Connect, an NHS Digital programme, allows clinical staff in primary, secondary and community care to access patients’ GP records across different IT systems.
NHS Digital told Management in Practise that other functions of GP Connect include allowing authorised users to manage appointments and clinicians to access patients’ medications and allergies.
These features are currently being tested as part of two different pilots and will become available to practices nationally later in the year.
Following a first pilot in Leeds in September 2018, all GP practices in the area started using the service after supplier TPP joined EMIS Health in implementing GP Connect in December last year.
Together with 17 EMIS practices, NHS Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust also piloted the GP Connect function, allowing clinicians to share GP records.
Consultant in emergency medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust Andy Webster said:
‘The GP Connect initiative will be transformational to clinicians working in the hospital to enable them to deliver more informed patient care.
‘Primary care information is key to many of the decisions we make on a daily basis.’
Through GP Connect, hospital clinicians can access information from GP systems 24/7.
This, Mr Webster said, also reduces ‘the administrative burden for GP practices having to send information often by insecure communication routes such as fax’.
In July last year health and social care secretary Matt Hancock committed half a billion pounds to digitising the NHS, and asked all NHS organisations to stop purchasing fax machines in December 2018, adding that they will be phased out by the end of March 2020.
As part of the long term plan, the NHS reiterated the need – initially outlined in Government policy paper The Future of Healthcare – to mandate technology standards to ensure data interoperability.
It added that the ability to share patients’ data across different healthcare settings is at present ‘inconsistent’.
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