Pauline McLean, Clinical Consultant: Why I believe the NHS can reach its Shared Care and Health Record (ShCR) ambitions

Pauline McLean, Clinical Consultant at Orion Health, says the technology is available and proven – and offers advice on effective implementation.

Long before I joined Orion Health, and before I qualified as a nurse, I made wedding dresses.

My key tools in this profession was a supply of old sheets, pins and a pair of scissors and of course the sewing machine! When a bride-to-be walked into my ‘fitting room’ – my home, I’d wrap one of the sheets around her, pinning and cutting it in line with the style she wanted.

As I did, I could clearly imagine the final dress in my head. However, I could see the worry in brides’ eyes, wondering whether they were doing the right thing because they couldn’t see what I could, but I’d done it many times before and they trusted me. As the dress took shape confidence grew, and they always got the end result they anticipated.

As Clinical Consultant at Orion Health, I’m still working to help people see the final vision. When it comes to Shared Care Records, I’m just as confident we can get there as I was back in my days of cutting up sheets and designing dresses.

Some parts of the country will feel like those brides standing in my living room, particularly as they think about September 2021 and the ‘deadline’ for a minimum viable solution in a Shared Care Record. While some are at the beginning of sharing health and social care information, others are further ahead, and we can all learn from each other. I also know, from past experience, there are several things you can do to make the journey a success.

  1. Don’t focus solely on the technology; focus on implementing the technology. In many ways, the move to a Shared Care Record is not that big a jump. We’re not at the digital starting blocks anymore. Community and social care providers, hospitals and GPs all have mature software systems in place. At Orion Health we have worked with the majority of these systems and know we can integrate information from them into a single shared record. Instead, think about how best to implement the technology. What change needs to take place, where are we now versus where do we want to be, who does it involve, what do they need to do, what benefits will it bring? Technology will do what it does, it’s the people who need to understand what it means for them, what role they have to play and how they align to the overarching strategy to deliver a Shared Care Record.

  2. Talk to others. Different parts of the country are at different stages of implementation, speaking to those who are further along can be really helpful. What have they learnt? What would they do differently? What do they see as key to success? What were the challenges and how did they overcome them?

  3. Make a plan. Successful implementation of a Shared Care Record begins with a realistic plan which aligns with the overarching strategy. It needs to detail the steps that need to be taken and at which point – and your vendor can help here – but it also needs to include how users will be engaged. With Shared Care Records any variation in working patterns is usually small. However, it is essential to understand what end-users need from the system: what are their challenges around access to information and why. Conducting benefits workshops can greatly help with this and the outputs of those workshops should then be central to the plans for implementation.

  4. Build the right team. In the delivery of health care, it’s essential to involve end users as part of the project team, but if those users aren’t invested in the project, you won’t get what you really need from them. Seek the colleagues who are enthusiastic about implementing a Shared Care Record and who want to work towards its success because they are invested in the benefits. Make sure all disciplines of clinical users are represented: not just doctors, not just nurses, but all allied health professionals. While health information is of absolute value to a shared record, it’s not always the main part and as such community and social care stakeholders are essential members to the team delivering for the citizens we all care for.

  5. Measure the baseline and share the benefits. A Shared Care Record ultimately means better patient care and experience as well as improved efficiency for end users in the multiple organisations. While users will still enter information into their ‘native’ systems, they will, at the click of a button, be able to see information from colleagues in other organisations. This means clinicians can make better informed decisions, more swiftly. Take a baseline measurement pre-implementation: how long, for instance, does it take a user in the hospital or GP practice to access information from social care and community organisations and vice versa, how do they know which services are in place or even the patient’s wishes? Measure that again once a Shared Care Record is implemented and evangelise the transformation it’s made. These successes will help build confidence not only in the shared record, but also belief in future innovations.

My job in Orion Health is to make sure we can say, with confidence, that Orion Health has clinically safe and proven technology to benefit you in your journey to achieving your Shared Health and Care Record.

Orion Health is a global leader in healthcare technology with over 20 years’ experience working with the NHS. Hundreds of thousands of clinicians in over 15 countries use our healthcare information technology solutions every day to improve clinical workflow, decision-making and patient care for more than 100 million patients in our award-winning systems.