Somerset County Council has deployed an electronic patient record (EPR) to support its public health nursing services.
In a move claimed to be the first of its kind by an English local authority, it has introduced the Rio EPR, provided by Access HSC, to support the nurses in health visiting and school nursing.
The system, which went live last October and which all staff have now been trained to use, can automate many aspects of the care planning process, including appointment booking, birth registrations and caseload allocation. It also includes an integrated text messaging service.
The supplier said the EPR enables the council to identify where demand for services is higher, so the 150 public health nursing practitioners employed by the service can be allocated more effectively.
Somerset’s clinical lead for the project, Sarah Bourne, said: “It’s unprecedented for a local authority to provide nursing services like this, so we needed a system that was designed to meet our needs, so we can best serve the children and families of Somerset.
“The system is connected to the NHS Spine, which means we have full visibility of all new births in the county when they happen, as well as receiving notifications when children move to the area, so their care can be administered as quickly as possible and we can deliver the best services and protect those who are most vulnerable.”
She added that data stored in the EPR will also be used to shape future services, enabling the council to look at different interventions and identify levels of service at a granular, local population level.
Rachel Parker, head of public health operations for the council, said: “Delayed intervention is a major contributor to health inequalities. By improving the overall efficiency of the service, families can access public nursing services more quickly, getting the support they need sooner, so they’re less likely to need as much support later on in life”.