As pressure on acute trusts to become paperless increases, Anne Boschen, information system manager at The Garden Clinic explains how the sexual health clinic got ahead of the game by digitising paper notes, processes and patient records.
While most NHS trust’s may have felt a sense of panic to meet Jeremy Hunt’s challenge of a paperless NHS by 2018, the Garden Clinic, based in Slough took the announcement in its stride. With approximately 30,000 sexual health patients visiting the centre for diagnosis or treatment every year, the clinic, which is part of Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, recognised the benefits of switching from paper to pixels, including improvements in organisational efficiencies, some time ago.
The clinic is supporting the Department of Health’s recent ‘Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England’ by responding to improvements required in “accurate, high-quality and timely information that helps people to make informed decisions about relationships, sex and sexual health” and going paperless is helping it to do just that.
A PreView into the future
The clinic offers a variety of services including advice, contraceptive methods, screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and required a sexual health clinic management system, which provided an intuitive and instant electronic means of managing patient care.
In 2008, IMS MAXIMS integrated its PreView module into the clinic’s existing PAS, meaning that results from tests such as Genito–urinary (GU), Sexual Partners (SP), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) could be consolidated into one patient record – something that is unusual in most sexual health clinics – supporting the clinic’s move towards a ‘one stop shop’ for sexual health needs. This allows the patient to use the same clinic for multiple testing but also provides a fully integrated record for sexual health specialists to manage patient care more efficiently.
PreView in practice
A key area within the PreView module that has made a significant impact on the clinic is the Order Communications System (OCS) reflects Boschen: “OCS has made a big difference to us, as we can now send our test requests electronically and the results come back into the patient record. It means that instead of having massive amounts of paper copies sent back to the laboratory, the actual test results goes straight into the patient record and any abnormal results are flagged up so that the doctors and health advisors can deal with them.”
Other operational service benefits experienced since the OCS was deployed at the clinic are improvements in quality, reduced clinical risk, cost reduction and increased efficiency. Boschen also identifies the advantages for patients awaiting test results, often anxious about the outcome can receive diagnosis much faster: “Instead of waiting two to three weeks for a test result to come back, most results are back within a day or two.”
Continuing the vision
As the Garden Clinic continues to work to become a paperless organisation before the 2018 deadline, there is a large emphasis on the electronic patient record provider’s proactive and tailored approach to achieving this ambition. “IMS MAXIMS not only took the time to spend with us and discuss our objectives right from the start, they have continued to be very diligent in upgrading the system regularly. They were also very flexible in their patient-focused approach.”