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How to implement a shared care record in less than a year

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NHSX CEO Matthew Gould’s announcement last month that all 42 sustainability and transformation partnerships/integrated care systems (STP/ICS) must have shared records in place by September 2021, is without doubt a challenging target. Historically the shared care record procurement alone can take a year and deployment even longer. We ask, is there an alternative?

The requirements of a ‘basic’ shared care record

Like many technology projects the first thing many commentators have asked is what the requirements are. HSJ reported that NHSX said it wanted a ‘basic’ level of record-sharing in place as set out by the Professional Record Standard Body in their core information standard.

As well as general demographic information, this includes appointments, medications, care plans and more. The core information list includes over 1,500 data fields which could exist across hundreds of different IT systems, coupled with NHSX wanting the records to include NHS trusts, GPs and social care, sounds far from a ‘basic’ level of interoperability.

Prioritise the objectives of your shared care record

A better place to start your shared record development is by defining what you want to achieve from interoperability.

NHSX would like to see shared care records in place to ensure that data can flow between care settings. They claim that by NHS trusts using up to 21 different medical record systems which do not ‘talk’ to each other, patient safety is at risk and rightly so – clinical decisions are influenced by access to accurate and timely information about a patient.

By keeping your objectives front of mind, it becomes clearer to identify the key elements you first need to integrate into your shared care record. Is GP data shared in the hospitals within your STP/ICS? Do GPs need access to pathology results? Does the wider system have visibility of allergies and alerts? Do you need better transitions of care?

Start small and build incremental programmes

To succeed quickly it is important not to try to do everything at once and more importantly, do not attempt full interoperability. Start with the basics, your basics, and add datasets incrementally from there.

A genuine shared care record relies on the data from existing systems, rather than wasting resources trying to make legacy technology ‘talk’. Read more about the interoperability dilemma in our blog; Are shared care records just a pipe dream?

Core functionality

At its heart, a shared care record is essentially a ‘viewer’. It is a piece of technology which enables any user across any care setting to view the same information about a patient in real-time.

Yes, shared care records can also pave the way to population health management and machine learning but for now, let’s focus on the core functionality. Too often, shared care record procurements become blurred by the art of the possible rather than what is needed now, on the ground, to improve the quality of patient care. In our experience to get your STP/ICS started with a shared care record, you need the following basic functionality:

  1. Authentication that allows users from all organisations to log in to the record using their existing credentials.
  2. Role-based access to ensure users only see the information they need for their care setting and role.
  3. Cross-organisation search to allow users to find patients no matter which system they are registered in.
  4. Patient lists that can be created by users and shared across care settings to promote collaborative working.
  5. An intuitive user interface from which users can quickly view patient information and activity from across care settings without the need for dedicated training.

Once your ‘basic’ interoperability solution is in place, functionality such as pathology, care plans and document sharing can easily be phased in.

Get the ball rolling today

NHSX has confirmed that funding will be available to help STP/ICSs meet the 2021 target. They are also working on a procurement framework. However, no timelines have been provided so our advice is to get moving now. There is no need to wait and waste precious time. Particularly in the current climate.

An interoperability solution such as the IMX Clinical Record can certainly help. It is not a pre-defined product, instead is designed with you specifically for your region. This means STP/ICSs can build their own ‘basic’ care records according to the needs of their users and processes.

The IMX Clinical Record can provide a shared care record within 12 weeks as it doesn’t require a large data repository and is developed using a modular approach. Even better, this makes it highly cost-effective as you never pay for functionality you do not need.

Embrace the legacy patchwork

With IMX we challenge the 2021 naysayers and Mr Gould himself “I do not want to put a timescale on deeper interoperability and getting away from the legacy estate and extraordinarily patchwork system that we start with, because it is complex and hard to pin down as a job.”

We don’t need to get away from existing technology at all. It is far more efficient for shared care records to embrace the complex patchwork. It is the only way to deliver flexible shared records necessary for the regional NHS landscape. With IMX you can think big, start small and scale fast.

Further information

To discover more about how IMX can solve your shared care record challenge talk to an expert on 01392 363888 or email

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