Electronic health information-sharing benefits Canterbury patients

Wednesday February 15, 2012

“Accurate, complete and timely clinical information is critical in making the best decisions for a patient, but before February 22, 2011 an ability to access information electronically from other healthcare professionals seemed a distant aspiration for Canterbury clinicians,” explains Dr Nigel Millar, chief medical officer at Canterbury District Health Board.
“As emergency planners have been saying for decades, you need to prepare for a major event such as an earthquake, or learn the hard way.
“Sure enough, when February 22 came the Health system coped brilliantly, thanks mainly to the initiative and calibre of its staff, but it did so without the benefit of a system for sharing electronic records.”
In the aftermath of February 22, patients were not always being seen by their usual family clinician as many GP practices and pharmacies were closed and community nursing services were severely disrupted. Patients were also coming in to the Emergency Department with no referral and no quick way to check patient history.
Sharing electronic records so that the Canterbury heath system is better prepared for the next ’big event’ was made a priority and Shared Care Record View (eSCRV) was born.
“eSCRV allows healthcare professionals access to appropriate electronic patient records through a secure portal, leading to faster, more informed treatment and shorter waiting/treatment times for patients,” Dr Millar says.
“It has been made possible through a partnership between Canterbury District Health Board, Pegasus Health and software experts Orion Health who developed the technology and implementation expertise. A pilot group of GPs, pharmacists and community nurses played a vital role through lending their expertise and giving advice to enable Orion to fine tune eSCRV in preparation for it becoming more widely available in April.”
eSCRV is expected to be fully functional by July this year and a modest set of data will then be available to community and hospital health professionals. Based on early feedback and expressions of interest, more than 90% of Canterbury clinicians are expected to take part.
“In the near future, a patient could find themselves in the Emergency Department and clinicians will be able to see relevant medical history such as details of recent or chronic illnesses, operations, community prescriptions etc.
Knowing about all of these things will help health professionals make informed decisions leading to better patient outcomes.”
Dr Millar says it’s important to emphasise to the public that only authorised health professionals in Canterbury will be able to access the information, which will remain safe and confidential. “People who do not want their health information shared in this way can easily ’opt off’ the system, I advise anyone who has concerns to discuss them with a health professional they know well, for example their GP, before making a decision.
“eSCRV has been designed with patients’ best interests in mind and people can be reassured that security of information has been a top priority throughout: As a built-in safeguard, all access to information by authorised users is monitored and audited to ensure it is appropriate and justified,” Dr Millar says.​
Page last reviewed: 23 July 2013