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Nurses urgently need the technology for instant access to patient records

The technology exists for multidisciplinary teams to instantly share updated patient records, and community nurses must be given access to it

The technology exists for multidisciplinary teams to instantly share updated patient records, and community nurses must be given access to it

Picture shows a community nurse at the home of an older man and his daughter. In this article Ian Bailey says the technology exists for multidisciplinary teams to instantly share updated patient records, and nurses must be given access to it.
Picture: iStock

The challenge of preventing unnecessary hospital admissions becomes harder as winter sets in. Caring for people more effectively in their own homes is part of the answer, but it relies on the effective working of community-based multidisciplinary teams (MDTs).

As any nurse knows, accounting for every part of a patient’s history is a huge hurdle to overcome. I know from personal experience that it becomes exponentially more complicated when there are multiple agencies and staff involved in delivering this care.

Care for people with co-morbidities is particularly complicated, because different agencies and healthcare professionals can be responsible for treating each individual condition. Care can often be fragmented and the combined effect of the conditions and their treatments on a person’s quality of life may not have been considered. The answer is to make better use of technology.

Shared electronic records are essential

Nurses need instant electronic access to a shared care record – whether they are in a treatment room, in the patient’s home or in the car. It helps them to make more informed and safer decisions, have more effective conversations with their colleagues and provide patients with the best experience possible.

As well as containing all the information they need, it’s important that the shared record can be updated at any location. This means that when a nurse visits a patient in their home or needs to consult a colleague on a decision, all the clinical activity is up to date and recorded in one place.

This way of shared working helps define who is responsible for care planning and delivery. Each action can be assigned to the person who has responsibility for it and can ensure it is completed.

If healthcare professionals can track what others have done, what stage a patient is at with their care and what needs to be done next, it’s easier for them to provide holistic care.

Joined-up technology enables each member of an MDT to triage a patient. This means one referral, picked up by the relevant person immediately.

The Liverpool Diabetes Partnership shows how this can be achieved. By enabling all disciplines to have access to the same patient record, the service is providing more care in the community and picking up inappropriate referrals. Nurses report no longer having to chase patient information, enabling them to spend more time in meaningful MDT discussions.

A better experience for everyone

Being continually asked to tell their story to different people is tedious for patients. There is, quite rightly, an expectation that we should know what is going on. Removing the need to ask patients to repeat information is better for everyone. It allows nurses to use the time more effectively and ask questions directly related to the patient.

Using technology to identify which patients are at risk of developing illnesses enables a shift in care to a proactive model, rather than a reactive one. With different healthcare professionals feeding into one record, there is a richer database that can be analysed to pinpoint where care should be directed.

Many of us use fitness trackers and other wearable technology. But what happens to the data they collect? If nurses have access to this information, they can help educate and empower patients to understand what steps they themselves can take to improve their health. In effect, the patient becomes a virtual member of the MDT.

This technology is available now and can be used by MDTs in the community. Nurses need to take every opportunity to create a case to have the best technology available to us. We are great at establishing relationships with our patients. Imagine how much more powerful and beneficial these relationships could be with the right technology.


Picture of Ian Bailey, a Queen’s Nurse and clinical design director at EMIS Health. In this article he says the technology exists for multidisciplinary teams to instantly share updated patient records, and nurses must be given access to it.Ian Bailey, a Queen’s Nurse, is clinical design director at EMIS Health

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