Summary Care Record (SCR) helps patients treated away from home
Patients of Wellspring Medical Practice in Killingworth, North Tyneside, benefitted from having a Summary Care Record (SCR) when they needed emergency treatment miles from home.
Staff at the surgery were able to cut time spent conveying essential health information by directing clinicians in other parts of the country to check their patients' SCRs rather than wait for notes to be faxed to them.
Liz Brittlebank, Wellspring's Practice Manager, says: "That's happened on a couple of occasions since we uploaded SCRs in June 2012.
"Patients travel across the country and need to use A&Es. We've been able to direct staff calling from A&E departments to the patient's SCR and that has saved time for us and for the patient."
Viewing of SCRs in the NHS North of Tyne PCT cluster is expected to start in late 2012 and so use of the emergency care summaries locally has yet to bring an anticipated and significant benefit to the practice.
"It's early days yet." says Liz. "We think the biggest benefit to us as a practice will be when we deal with staff calling from hospitals – we should be able to direct them to use the SCR, with the individual patient's consent, rather than pulling out the information and faxing it to them."
Many of the 5,300 patients on Wellspring's list live in the south of their patch, a neighbourhood called Longbenton.
Prevalence of common chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are slightly higher than the average for practices in Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland.
Liz says: "I informed our GPs that a number of other practices had gone live with the SCR and that, from what I'd heard, the process was now sorted out. I said we should go live with the SCR and the doctors agreed."
The initial upload from their TPP system failed but support from the PCT meant the transfer worked perfectly at the second attempt.
Liz says: "It worked smoothly the next time we were scheduled to upload. All I did was click a few buttons and set the programme away and that was it, all complete.
"Overall, the process was not 100% straightforward but it was a lot more straightforward than I had anticipated.
"We got very good support from the local PCT before, during and after the process."
For staff at Wellspring, the data cleansing phase of the process to create SCRs was not time consuming.
"Most of the data cleansing was done remotely by a member of the information services team at the PCT," says Liz.
"They ran a report to check the accuracy of our records and I was sent a summary of the information they'd extracted. That set out what we needed to act on.
"In all we only had about half a dozen records to check. It was extremely straightforward."
A little over 60 patients chose to opt out of the SCR initiative in the wake of a Public Information Programme that explained the emergency care records to patients.
Liz says: "Interestingly a few people who had opted out changed their mind when they came in for face to face discussions and realised the limitations on the information SCRs would contain.
"Despite the quality of the information sent to patients individually in a mailshot, there is still a misconception among some patients that all their information would be included."