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Home > News > Trust goes live with electronic health record

Trust goes live with electronic health record

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has introduced an electronic health record (EHR).

The new system, called TrakCare, launched in April, and is being used across Trust sites, including at North Devon District Hospital and community hospitals. It replaces the patient administration system that has been in use for over thirty years.

Bringing in an electronic health record is an important step forward for patients and for the Trust, starting the journey towards an end to paper notes, referrals and forms that will ultimately improve services.

The first area of focus for the new system has mainly been the administration of patient services, such as booking appointments. These are very complex processes, having to support many different services, to ensure patients are seen by the right clinician at the right time, depending on what they need.

Over the next two years, more processes that use paper will be replaced with TrakCare. This will mean doctors, nurses, and other health professionals will have access to up-to-date health records electronically and securely, meaning patients won’t have to repeat information to different professionals involved in their care across northern Devon. Having electronic records also means that the Trust can share information more easily with other health and social care organisations, where appropriate.

Dr Alison Diamond, chief executive of the Trust, said: “This is a fantastic development for the Trust and for our patients, and supports our aim to deliver joined-up, integrated health and social care.

“We could not have achieved this without our staff, whose dedication, hard work and enthusiasm have made this transition possible.”

The Trust has been closely monitoring its services throughout the launch of the new electronic health record system, and there has been disruption in some areas, particularly in outpatient services. Some patients may have experienced delays to appointment letters or to their automated call appointment reminders. Patients may have also experienced longer waiting times when attending appointments, whilst staff became confident in using the new system.

Dr Diamond added: “Whilst we have worked hard to make the launch of our electronic health record system as smooth as possible, a change of this magnitude will always cause some disruption and there has been an impact on patient waiting times, along with some disruption to the booking of outpatient appointments.

“We apologise to any of our patients who have had an experience that did not meet our normally high standards throughout this period of change. I would like to assure all our patients that we are working hard to resolve these issues, and to thank them for bearing with us while we do so.”

The Trust has been working to keep disruption to a minimum and services are beginning to return to normal.

Following the launch of the system, there has been an increase in phone calls to the Trust, with the main phone lines becoming extremely busy, meaning some patients have had difficulty getting through.

Through monitoring the calls, the Trust has identified some ways to improve these services and is introducing a phone handling system, which will help patients calling the main hospital number to get through to the right person more quickly, by allowing callers to select departments from an automated list.

All patients are encouraged to attend their appointments whenever possible. Those who cannot attend an appointment are advised to cancel or rearrange to allow the appointment slot to be given to another patient.

More information can be found on the appointments and cancellations section of the Trust website: http://www.northdevonhealth.nhs.uk/contact/appointments-and-cancellations/

More information

The Trust is working towards operating a full electronic health record across all inpatient, outpatient, acute, community and home-based services, which will be gradually put in place over the next couple of years. This is in line with the Government’s vision for a paperless NHS. This first phase, now operational at the Trust, addresses the inpatient, outpatient and acute services.

The Trust is also investing in an electronic health record to support community and home-based services, which will be implemented at a later date. The chosen system for these services is robust and provides support in a flexible way, online and offline, and will, in time, integrate with the EHR system now operating across hospital and outpatient services.