Scotland’s drive towards greater integration of health and social care provision aims to ensure that those who use services get the right care and support whatever their needs, wherever they are in their care journey. Ideally, people will be able to stay in their homes.
Sharing information between patients and care providers will be central to this drive; the current practice of asking people to travel great distances into busy hospitals, so they can share simple facts that could easily be gathered through other means, is unsustainable. Getting the right technology is essential for this. But, as might be expected, hospitals and councils have a myriad of IT systems in place.
Getting information from healthcare teams to council social care teams is a real stumbling block on the road to more joined up, integrated care. However, Scotland is already ahead in removing those barriers to progress.
A new era for Scottish digital health
“I think there’s a real dawning in Scotland about how healthcare technology is starting to improve and support the transformation of care. That means providing more healthcare closer to the patient’s home and in the community, with visiting a hospital becoming the last resort,” explains Nick Willox, Sales Director for Scotland at Orion Health.
For the past decade, Orion Health has used its cutting-edge software to allow patient information to be pulled together into a single record in Scotland. It has addressed the complicated task of pooling data from multiple systems, giving clinicians access to all the information they need at their fingertips to help them more effectively manage patients under their care.
“There’s recognition in all developed countries of the need to provide better access to healthcare data. In Scotland, as in other parts of the UK, health boards have a multitude of systems, but no system to bring it all together to give you one single intuitive view.”
“This single view of a patient means a doctor can make a more informed decision of what course of medical action to take as they have a fuller picture of a patient’s medical history and background. This also results in more coordinated care helping to reduce unnecessary hospital visits, fewer duplication of tests, plus patients do not have to remember all of their details and keep repeating it to each clinician they are seen by.”
Six NHS health boards across the country, serving around half its population, are now using Orion Health’s range of software solutions, which Electronic medical records are making today’s hospitals smarter include a clinical portal, clinical workflow tools and a patient portal.
The firm, which was founded in New Zealand, is also helping with the Scottish Government-mandated task of integrating health and social care services.
“By implementing our software, we’ve allowed health boards and more recently, local authorities to bring information together from many different systems,” adds Willox.
“The result? Safer, more effective care. And the care teams are one step further along in the move to a paperless environment.”
He adds: “Our experience speaks for itself – we’ve been delivering integrated care solutions in the UK and Ireland for over 15 years, supporting around 20 million individual patient records. We estimate our technology is used by 120,000 clinical and administration staff to support health services. ”
Underpinning the move to integrated care, as Willox suggests, is for health boards to move from paper-based processes to working in a digital environment. NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, the largest health board in the UK, delivers services through 35 major hospitals, 10 specialised units and 50 health centers and clinics, and has made significant strides in this area.
With an unprecedented building programme in recent years to replace ageing Victorian buildings, the board also embarked on a massive modernisation of its own approach to data. This included becoming ‘paper-free’ by implementing Orion Health’s integration technology to deliver an Electronic Health Record (EHR), providing a single unified patient medical record regardless of where the patient lived or where the clinician was located.
As a result of implementing Orion Health’s technology, staff are also able to intuitively access all the relevant laboratory test information they need via a single click of the mouse where previously that could involve navigating many different screens. “We are delighted with the way the systems have allowed staff to get all the information they need, in a much quicker and more time efficient manner,” adds Willox.
Beyond the boundaries
Orion Health operates in 17 countries, managing in excess of 100 million patient records, but has a committed local approach in the Scottish market, and opened an office in Glasgow last year to be closer to its customers and work with the thriving Scottish technology workforce.
And as of April, it has worked with NHS Fife and two local authorities on a very successful pilot to draw together information from many different sources, in line with the new integrated health and social care approach. These include consultants, GPs, nurses, social care, families, friends, communities and other care organisations. “That has been successful and, now the pilot has recently come to an end, we are in discussions with Fife on the next steps as to where we take it from there. But there is a keenness to expand its use,” adds Willox.
One of the key developments in recent years from health boards has been that systems allow them to share data, not just within their own jurisdiction, but with neighbouring boards as well. Orion Health has met that challenge and has recently gone live on a ‘portal to portal’ system with its West of Scotland health board clients, allowing much greater sharing of patient information between clinicians across the region.
This has particular relevance for patients in areas such as NHS Dumfries & Galloway, who may travel to Glasgow for a specialist service. The portal approach allows hospital consultants to view the patient’s local records to get a fuller picture of who they are treating. The linked portals will initially provide a read-only view of patient information, with Orion Health’s sophisticated role-based access features to ensure only those with appropriate seniority can view the record. Each board decides what information to make available through the portal.
The future of medicine
The rapid pace of change with both software and new hardware devices, as well as new advances in population health management, have given rise to increasingly sophisticated requirements from public health policy teams. Orion Health is rising to that challenge. As people become more accustomed to using smartphones and tablets, the company is fine-tuning modern, 21st century solutions, which enable a much more patient-centric, personalised form of care.
It also fits an emerging policy focus which seeks to empower patients by giving them greater access to their own data. Orion Health’s work with the specialist Golden Jubilee National Hospital illustrates these capabilities. It is working with the health board on a pilot project that will help support the management of knee and hip replacement patients with long-term post-operative care needs. Thanks to an innovative trial that Orion Health has begun with its client, a new patient portal will allow patients to be ‘remotely triaged’ at the critical stages in their periodic post-surgery follow-up assessments for hip replacement patients – saving them unnecessary and longdistance trips to see specialists, whose time will be freed up to see only those patients who require further treatment and improving the patient experience.
Pioneering research and development work is also ongoing at its New Zealand headquarters to develop targeted ‘precision medicine’ solutions to enable the real-time capture of patient information through remote monitoring devices, to instantly analyse that data and improve patient outcomes. To that end Orion Health is investing $38m (NZD) to provide that better, safer future.
ABOUT ORION HEALTH
- Orion Health is a global leader in healthcare technology, advancing Population Health Management and Precision Medicine solutions enabling personalised care across the entire health community.
- Its proven end-to-end solution has the capability to seamlessly bring together all of an individual’s health and social care information. As a result, clinicians and caregivers can collaborate in real time, whilst actively engaging individuals in their own care and wellness.
- 100 million + patient records held globally
- 70+ customers in the UK & Ireland
- 16 staff in Glasgow office