Patient care across health communities - a how-to checklist for CCGs

At the recent Commissioning Show, held at ExCel, London on 12-13 June, I hosted a seminar looking at how IT can help commissioners forge new ways of caring for patients across health communities.

Leading CCGs recognise that cutting-edge technology is an essential tool in delivering excellent clinical care efficiently. The key is to mobilise and understand the vast amounts of clinical data available - and to engage patients more with their care.

Here is my five-point checklist:

1. Mobilise the data

To provide seamless care across multidisciplinary teams, all clinicians need secure access to each other's records. This means unlocking the data from the often disparate IT systems used across CCGs. The good news is that the technology already exists. The vast majority of GPs in the UK will soon be able to share data with any other healthcare organisations via the Medical Interoperability Gateway (MIG).

2. Understand the data

Next, make sense of data through cross-organisational reporting tools, to help monitor and plan services. At EMIS, EMIS Web provides tools for measuring health outcomes and performance, supporting risk stratification, clinical surveillance and benchmarking of clinical data and outcomes. Oldham clinical commissioners are using a secure data extraction service to build a risk-profiling database enabling GPs to identify and proactively manage patients at risk of emergency hospital admission.

3. Use the data to design new services

EMIS Web integrated care functionality supports the seamless delivery of services in the community and closer to patients. For example, in North Mersey, a community-based anti-coagulation service has eliminated long journeys to hospital and delivered almost 14,000 consultations closer to home.

4. Eliminate paper where you can

A number of electronic services are available across the NHS to eliminate paper and improve efficiency: EMIS Mobile is helping clinicians to cut paperwork by enabling them to access and add to the core GP patient record while out on the road. The MIG helps clinicians in Cumbria and Merseyside, who use four different systems, to send electronic discharge information to GPs within 24 hours which previously took several days or even weeks.

5. Use the data to engage patients in their own care

I'm often asked to advise CCGs who want to engage proactively with patients to enable them to meet the government's 2015 target for all GPs to offer patients online health services. "Transactional" services (such as appointment booking and repeat medication requests) are already proving popular: in the last 12 months alone, over 10.3 million appointments were booked electronically using our Patient Access service. Secure online access to their health record is also enabling patients with long-term conditions to manage their health in partnership with their GP. Patient Access is managed via (the UK's leading independent health information site). Online services such as this are key to any integrated healthcare strategy.

Looking ahead: using data to improve patient care through clinical excellence

EMIS' founding principle continues to this day - to work closely with clinicians to develop innovative technology that improves patient care and the health of the nations it serves. That work is continually being refined so that CCGs can benefit from a wide range of tools to develop care pathways tailored to local communities.