Digitally Connected Health Care

Posted: Tuesday 4 October 2022

Transforming Jersey’s health care digitally, took a step closer this/last week after representatives from the island’s health care industry, and the Minister for Health, Deputy Karen Wilson, came together to hear how a system we already have in place, could be used to improve patient outcomes, and improve service and efficiency.

Digital Jersey hosted Dr Masood Nazir, a GP partner at Hall Green Health in Birmingham, and the practice’s Operations Manager, Jamal Syed. The pair were in the Island to share their experience of using technology, which is already available to every GP practice in Jersey, but which hasn’t yet been fully implemented, despite an agreed Digital Health and Care strategy being in place since early 2017.

Hall Green Health uses the EMIS system which is a digital clinical system that supports joined-up working across all care settings. It not only enables patients to book appointments online or via a phone app, or re-order repeat prescriptions and sick notes, but through a Patient Access facility, it allows individuals to choose to view and share their health data with other health care professionals including pharmacists. Dr Masood and Mr Syed explained that by starting with using data to assess what patient needs were, they were able to transform patient satisfaction and outcomes by prioritising tasks and using staff more efficiently.

All parties emphasised that it is a digital first approach, not a digital only solution. Even if only a percentage of people choose to use the digital tools available, that will still help those who don’t through the more efficient use of resources. However, the pandemic has meant that people embraced digital tools and are now much more comfortable with using them.

Minister for Health, Deputy Karen Wilson was positive about the potential. “We are in a position where we are going to have to transform healthcare, and digital capability is key to that. But where it comes to health care in particular, there are solutions already there that we are not tapping into, and I want to see if we can actually use those and improve the quality and effectiveness and the outcomes for patients. That’s what’s really important.”

Several GP practices were represented at the meeting and were positive about the potential for digitisation. Dr Nigel Minihane, GP and board member of the Primary Care Body, took part in the panel discussion. He said that sharing data across the healthcare system would enable professionals within the industry to provide the best care.

“We need to involve the public, their views, make it clear what is possible, that we’re giving them direct control over what data can be accessed predominantly for their benefit. We want to then come back to looking at a policy decision whereby we put a summary care record and patient access together so people can begin to share their data and have elements of their data shared for their benefit. The mantra I’ve always used is appropriately surrounding people with data so that the person in front of them, the healthcare person, can do the best job they can.”

However, he said there were some concerns which would need government action, in particular a secure system that would allow for the safe sharing of data across various services, and the law and policies with regard to that data sharing to protect both patients and the doctors. “I think we’ve got a much stronger leadership in government, with a digital officer and a Minister for Health who seems to be very interested in modernising health so that should make a huge difference in terms of rolling this out and more importantly uptake.”

Two local digital businesses also attended the session and are involved in the EMIS solution. Medibooks which was developed by TSG to manage payments for GPs, is now a global export, and CityPay a payment processing service in Jersey, will now offer full integration.

Digital Jersey CEO, Tony Moretta, who hosted the event, said it had been a positive meeting. “We got to hear a brilliant case study for how tech is being used to improve patient outcomes and efficiency in a major GP surgery in Birmingham and the great news is that it was by using a system that all the GPs in Jersey have access to. If we can work together to open up those systems to allow patients to access their own data in Jersey, to book appointments, to order repeat prescriptions, I think that is going to be a great boon to patients and a big benefit to GP practices here, just at a time when we have an ageing population and the cost of running businesses, the cost of employing staff, the ability to recruit staff, is getting harder and harder.

“But we’ve been here before. At Digital Jersey we pulled primary care, secondary care, family nursing, the pharmacists, the technology providers together around the table in 2016 and we published at the beginning of 2017, a detailed Digital Health and Care strategy for Jersey that everyone bought into. Yet it hasn’t been implemented. It’s still the right strategy. We still need to implement it. I heard some really positive noises tonight from the Health Minister and the industry that we need to get on with it.”

The Health Minister, Deputy Wilson added, “This is a great opportunity for people to have real ownership of their own care information and I also think that in today’s busy world they want the agility and flexibility to be able to manage their own processes around appointments and look at their blood tests and actually see what their results are, and we should be there already; but I acknowledge that we’re not. Hopefully after tonight we can start to build this offer for them, and they would welcome that as part of the transformation of our health service.

“What is really critical here is that we need to build our systems arrangements and I think that’s been the bulk of the conversation tonight which is how do we come together to develop an approach to digital that will actually improve healthcare, and I for one would be very supportive of that.”

WHAT COULD THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

  • Booking doctors’ appointments online
  • Re-ordering prescriptions online, which can be sent directly to pharmacists
  • Online sickness note requests forms
  • Being able to access your blood and other test results yourself, along with allergies and medication lists, and opting to share these with other healthcare professionals if you choose
  • Better care and safeguarding for patients through data sharing. Every healthcare professional could have access to allergy and patient history data which is essential for optimum care and treatment. This could even be shared with specialists in the UK if treatment is required there.
  • Online payments for all doctor’s bills
  • Care Homes and carers can have proxy access which will keep a full audit trail of what was ordered and done for a patient, and who it was done by.
  • More efficient use of staff time resulting in better care for patients and cost savings for doctors
  • Opportunities for video consultations if required. These would not replace in-person consultations but can help with screening people prior to appointments.
  • A digital first but not digital only strategy. People will still be able to access all services offline if they prefer.

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