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South West Yorkshire NHS speeds up access to patient information

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Collaboration with ReStart sees new scalable and affordable interoperable technology deliver fast, immediate clinical benefits to frontline staff.

South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYPFT) has gone live with a new clinical portal for its mental health, community, and learning disability services that has the potential to save staff significant time each year in unnecessary administration and phone calls by improving access to clinical information.

Once the roll-out is complete, the new care record, based on technology by health and social IT integration experts ReStart, will provide around 3,500 health and care professionals with access to patient information from eight different IT systems.

By bringing this vital information into a single view, staff do not have to spend precious time unnecessarily trying to find information or discussing patient cases with colleagues from different service departments.


The deployment supports a key element of the NHS’s Long Term Plan which placed a renewed emphasis on the adoption of technology to support ‘clinician-centric digital user journeys across all health settings’.

The trust’s clinical portal, called PORTIA, supports the NHS’ 10-year plan by reducing clinical risks associated with disparate information on different systems, and removes the duplication of data entry into specific clinical systems.

PORTIA is powered by ReStart’s IMX Interoperability Record which plugs the interoperability gap between Trust Integration Engines (TIEs) and enterprise-wide integration solutions such as electronic patient records, building towards a full shared care record.

SWYPFT’s roll-out began 12 months ago in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) departments who were quick to realise the potential by extending access to their dataset to other services across the trust.

Nichola Hartshorne, Kirklees and Calderdale Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Clinical Manager, said: “We wanted to give our Single Point of Access teams and other local care providers a full picture of a patient’s interaction with the trust at the point of referral, to make sure they had visibility of patient demographics, previous appointments, contacts and progress notes.

“This not only reduces the risk of missing any relevant details on referral, it also means patients will no longer need to continually provide and repeat personal information at each care episode, therefore improving their experience”, added Hartshorne.

The IAPT service was identified as a key area that could deliver significant efficiency benefits with the introduction of the shared clinical record and new interoperable technology that could be scaled up adding further functionality incrementally.

This flexible ‘building block’ approach meant that the PORTIA clinical portal went live to meet short timescales in comparison to some regional interoperability programmes facing the challenges of engaging multiple organisations with varying digital requirements.

Paul Foster, Head of IT Services and Systems Development at SWYPFT, explained: “Given that our localities have a varied mix of current and legacy systems, holding patient information which could be beneficial for care, we were realistic in terms of achievability, timescale and cost for PORTIA.

“We worked closely with ReStart to engage with the different service teams and find out how we could shape the solution for their specific needs, meaning we kept momentum to go live, and beyond. And the early signs for benefits realisation are encouraging; across the trust, clinicians are aiming to save a significant number of days in unnecessary administration annually.

“ReStart used its vast experience in NHS integration to support us in developing a platform for what I hope propels South West Yorkshire to become a vanguard site for releasing clinical and financial benefits rapidly through interoperability to deliver true joined up care” concluded Foster.

The IMX Interoperability Record is a tool for care professionals that can be scaled to include patient interaction. It offers a broader many-to-many relationship to patient data allowing conditions for professionals to interact in real-time.

It is regarded as a potentially more affordable alternative to other clinical or patient portal solutions, with the potential to deliver similar levels of functionality, but reducing risk in upfront capital spend by realising the full potential of existing systems, without the need to rip and replace.

Mike Symers, managing director of ReStart Consulting, concluded: “So often you see shared care record programmes struggle with lengthy, resource-intensive deployments that end up not offering the flexible and user-centric solutions originally wanted by clinicians, carers and administrators.

“The SWYPFT team have demonstrated a sensible approach to integration: present users with relevant data at the point of care, and then build functionality to include new organisations and systems as the need arises. Well done to all involved in what is, in my view, a significant milestone for NHS interoperability.”

The next steps will build on the viewing platform to implement write back functionality and a true shared care patient record including a patient portal.

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