Homerton and Barts Health: improving patient care together
Right now Homerton University Hospital and Barts Health are attracting a lot of publicity on social media because they have agreed to securely share data and information, such as medical history, medications and care treatment plans subject to patient permission, to improve the quality of patient care. What this means to you the patient is if you previously visited one of Barts Health's hospitals (The Royal London, Mile End, Whipps Cross, St Bartholomew's or Newham) and then later present at Homerton with a condition clinical staff can see most of the records Barts Health hold about you, for instance: discharge summaries, diagnoses, investigations, medications and results.
All of us will go to a clinic or A&E reception at some time and when we give our details we assume the information that the staff are looking at on the computer screens contains our NHS records; 'it’s all one NHS' so each hospital has access to the same information, right? This is not the case and so what Homerton and Barts Health have agreed to do is big news.
Why, you may ask, does the NHS not have a single database after all one branch of a bank can access your account details as much as another? The answer is to do with cost and logistics. This not something which can be prescribed from above; it has to grow from the bottom up and this is part of that growth. A small network, Barts Health and Homerton, can grow as other organisations in East London share their data and join the network. It means that wherever you live, the healthcare services closest to you will have the information they need to make fast and informed decisions about your care and so your treatment can begin sooner than otherwise.
The professionals helping to build this network such as Niall Canavan, Homerton’s Director of IT and Charles Gutteridge, Chief Clinical Information Officer, Barts Health are rightly very excited saying that if on-going discussions with other providers conclude successfully then we could soon see an east London health record system with summarised views and in the future exchange of data for about 2.5 million people. That’s just in East London.
As similar initiatives around the country start joining the dots in search of a fully integrated network and as patients use Apps that are being developed to give them greater independence so we will become fully networked. That might sound unattractive to some but think of the benefits; no time needed to find out about allergies or pre-existing conditions so that diagnoses can be made more speedily and with confidence, considerably less cost, more effective patient care and faster recovery rates. For those of us in or approaching old age in East London this is great news, for our children and grandchildren it affords a very bright future. People are excited about this; we all should be.
Last updated on 29 September 2016.
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