An exciting future thanks to a strong foundation

23 March, 2020 | By Emma Wray

Wessex Care Records recently completed its first year with the full team on board and hosted an Annual Review event for over 70 stakeholders, including programme partners, the region's health and care professionals and NHSX. Clinical Lead, Dr Mark Kelsey and Programme Director, Astrid Fairclough reflect on the programme’s progress and future.

“The past year has been spent building upon the strong foundations that were already in place before the Wessex LHCR came along,” says Mark. “The existing shared care records in the region – the Dorset Care Record (DCR) and the Care and Health Information Exchange (CHIE) – were already growing in terms of the number of healthcare professionals using them and the number of records accessed. Population health management analytics and a central medication record were also areas that individually, Dorset ICS and Hampshire and Isle of Wight STP were pursuing,” he continues.

Through programme leadership and financial support, Wessex Care Records has enabled its partners to expand further on these strong foundations over the past 12 months to improve patient outcomes, including: a large increase in records accessed and the addition of new data feeds; the launch of a pilot maternity personal health record for midwives and women; and the procurement of a new population health management analytics tool.

Partnership working is fundamental to drive both the technological and cultural changes required, and this is another highlight of the programme’s first year. “Our value as the WCR programme team is to bring projects and people together operationally and strategically so that the historic borders that have existed as barriers to seamless care are removed. We can shift the focus to information in one county being available in another, shared in an appropriate way” says Astrid.

“With over 30 organisations involved we are incredibly grateful to the passion of our partners who share our vision. But we know that some of this work is complex and there are competing priorities so it’s my job and that of my team to support and motivate colleagues and provide direction as well as resources, skills and funding.”

The strategy around sharing information between us all is here to stay. It’s a priority within NHS England’s Long Term Plans and is backed by colleagues from NHSX, the new department responsible for giving staff and citizens the technology they need. A recent national review of the LHCR programme also highlighted the success of its approach – locally driven, using regional experts who can then inform the national picture, as LHCRs plan to join up with each other across England by 2024.

So, what are Astrid and Mark’s plans for the next 12 months?

“Wessex is now expanding into new horizons,” says Astrid. “Delivering the one medication record, driving interoperability, or the ‘bridge’ as we think of it, between DCR and CHIE, and introducing the ability to analyse information consistently across the region to plan services – a technical capability then used by the expert analysts, supported to develop enhanced skills as part of the new Wessex Data and Analytics Centre of Excellence that we helped launch in February.

“We also want to ensure personal health records underway across Wessex integrate with the various systems and apps that are being developed elsewhere such as with the NHS Login, meaning that one username and password gets you into all your health-related apps.

“This Annual Review marks the start of an exciting turning point.”

“We and our partners all agree that making better use of healthcare information leads to faster, safer treatment. Given the challenges we currently face, this approach is needed more than ever before,” concludes Mark.