Health Technologies

The strategic implementation of SCRs marks a new era in patient-centric care – Digital Health Technology News

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for improved information sharing across healthcare settings. This led the NHS to kick-start the development of a national framework and data standards for shared care records (SCRs), with the ultimate aim of ensuring the consistent recording and exchange of patient information.

By September 2023, working closely with the NHS, the Government had prioritised establishing a national federated network of SCRs, (in which there is interoperability across different ICSs at a national level), as stated in its response to the Digital Transformation in the NHS report.

Success relies on a blend of operational leadership and technical proficiency

SCRs address fragmented patient information by amalgamating data from GPs, hospitals, mental health trusts, social care, and other associated providers into one location, enhancing decision-making and promoting the continuity of care.

The successful implementation of an SCR system requires a blend of operational leadership and technical proficiency. Challenges teams may face range from the critical task of selecting an appropriate SCR provider, to ensuring patient consent for data sharing, and guaranteeing the data’s accessibility, accuracy, and timeliness.

So, given this, how can healthcare organisations develop a roadmap that helps them to overcome the barriers and seamlessly reach their end destination? The first concern has to be choosing the right technology partner.

When selecting a SCR provider, it is crucial for organisations to prioritise technical competence and a proven track record in the industry. The chosen provider must showcase their ability to integrate with a broad range of existing systems and handle varying levels of technical capabilities within these systems. The emphasis should not only be on purchasing a product, but also on partnering with a provider that has a history of successful integrations and the ability to overcome the challenges of merging various health information systems.

Putting the plan into action

Launching a SCR system extends far beyond the realms of technical deployment. It necessitates robust clinical leadership and endorsement at every level within the organisation. It is essential to involve clinical staff thoroughly at every level and ensuring they understand and value the new system is crucial for its adoption and effective use. After all, the frontline workers are the people who will ultimately be using the system ‘day in, day out’.

It is also important to have effective clinical leadership in place. That’s key because even if a healthcare institution has access to the best technology, if the clinical team does not view the new system as valuable, it will not achieve the necessary level of use.

Each participating organisation must commit to this approach, ensuring that the SCR system is not only a technical solution but a tool embraced and utilised by every stakeholder. That can be a major challenge, particularly in large organisations that may not necessarily fully understand what the technology does and what the benefits are. This is why work needs to be carried out early on in the process to raise awareness of the system’s primary benefits, but also be designed in a way that is user friendly in order to drive up adoption.

Unlike Electronic Patient Record (EPR) systems, implementing a SCR is a cyclical process that often uncovers data quality issues and inconsistencies that previously went unnoticed. This process requires ongoing collaboration between all stakeholders including the supplier, with regular milestones set for reviewing progress, addressing challenges, and implementing adjustments as needed.

Beyond implementation

Contrary to popular belief, the journey doesn’t end with the implementation of a SCR. Instead, it acts as the foundation for broader initiatives, like driving up patient engagement through online portals, advancing population health management, and harnessing the power of advanced analytics. These subsequent steps exploit the SCR to facilitate the provision of care that is more personalised, preventive, and efficient for patients.

Evolving trends

Looking to the future, the evolution of SCRs is expected to include more sophisticated integration capabilities, real-time data sharing, and enhanced data presentation. The challenge of managing the sheer volume of available data will require innovative solutions, including the use of AI and advanced analytics, to help healthcare professionals efficiently interpret and make use of this intelligence. Information overload is already a reality as clinical systems grow in size and complexity, and the latest technology will be required to enable staff to make sense of it all.

In managing a patient with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, for instance, AI algorithms can be vital. They can analyse the patient’s historical health data, together with current metrics from wearables, lab results, and treatment responses. This analysis helps AI predict risks such as a potential diabetic episode, or heart failure, by identifying trends in blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and heart rate variability.

Guided by these forecasts, healthcare providers can proactively adjust medications, arrange urgent consultations, or recommend changes in lifestyle to support the patient. These early interventions are pivotal in preventing the deterioration of the patient’s health and may significantly reduce the likelihood of hospitalisation.

Positive prospects

Implementing a SCR is a complex and multifaceted journey that requires technical prowess, strategic vision, and unwavering commitment from the entire organisation. Compliance with policy is just the beginning. The goal is to revolutionise patient care through the power of seamless information sharing, and the adoption of innovative, new technologies like AI.

In this dynamic landscape, the SCR becomes more than just a tool; it’s a catalyst for a more integrated, patient-centred approach to healthcare. Moving forward, successful SCR deployment will demonstrate an organisation’s dedication to innovation and enhancing health outcomes.

For healthcare leaders, ensuring the effective implementation of SCRs is not just a matter of operations but a strategic imperative that will shape the future of healthcare delivery. This underlines the key role of SCRs in healthcare as the sector strives to offer better, more coordinated care for all.



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