An integrated digital care record has expanded across Bristol to help doctors safely prescribe opiate substitutes to homeless and vulnerable people.
The Connecting Care Interoperability Programme is one of the first in the country to use data interoperability standards developed by NHS Digital and healthcare interoperability organisation, InterOpen.
Connecting Care is a digital record system designed to improve information sharing in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
NHS England commissioned the development of Care Connect APIs to make it easier for health and care services systems to share information, using HL7 FHIRFast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), a new standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically.
The project hopes to cut drug-related deaths by giving healthcare professionals access to information about whether or not homeless and vulnerable people have already received an opioid drug replacement prescription. As such, the programme reduces the risk of duplicate prescriptions for controlled drugs being issued, which can lead to overdoses and other serious issues.
Dr Mike Taylor, lead GP at The Homeless Health Service in Bristol, said: “GPs working ‘in hours’ or ‘out of hours’ now have a reliable, quick, efficient way of knowing whether the patient in front of them is receiving opiate substitutes from drug workers outside practice-based care.
Clinicians in hospitals can also be aware of this source of prescription. This has real potential for saving lives and reducing drug-related deaths.”
The project is also significant as it makes NHS South Central and West Commissioning Support Unit (SCW) one of the first organisations to use the Care Connect FHIR APIs.
NHS England commissioned the development of Care Connect APIs to make it easier for health and care services systems to share information, using HL7 FHIR, a new standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically.
Emlyn Jones, technical lead for the Connecting Care programme said: “Our long-term goal is to create a consolidated list of medications for each patient, and this is the first step in doing that. So, we were looking for an interface that we could re-use, and the FHIR profiles felt like a good fit.
We spend a lot of time in the tech community talking about FHIR, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try it. FHIR is polished by being used. By doing things, we get them right.”