Skip to the content

West Midlands care record collaboratives report interoperability breakthrough

Connected digital icons in front of man
Image source:

Two shared care record collaboratives in the West Midlands have reported a breakthrough in sharing data between different system suppliers.

The Collaborative Care Record and One Health and Care – each comprising three integrated care systems (ICSs) – have worked on a proof of concept with InterSystems and Graphnet, using test data to demonstrate interoperability between the two systems.

They have used the FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard for passing healthcare data between systems, and have also begun to connect others, such as Oracle Cerner, used by some hospital trusts in the region.

The groups said this will enable them to greatly expand the footprint of their shared records to include data from a total of 848 providers serving 6.1 million people, and that the planned connection of around 600 community pharmacies will further extend the reach.

A spokesperson told UKAuthority the testing began late last year and will continue as the collaboratives decide how they want to further develop the capability.

The Collaborative Care Record delivers shared records for ICSs covering Birmingham and Solihull, Coventry and Warwickshire, and Herefordshire and Worcestershire. One Health and Care covers Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Black Country, and Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. They joined forces to provide the West Midlands Shared Care Record in 2020.

Overcoming a barrier

Dr James Reed, consultant forensic psychiatrist and chief clinical information officer at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and one of the participants in the testing process, said that while local ICS have shared care records they do not all share patient data with each other. If they can overcome this barrier it will provide quicker outcomes for patients.

“It’s something we’d like to fix now we have the technical capability,” he said, adding: “The improvement we could make in care, and the pressure that could be taken off the system in terms of cost, time and resources, would be just phenomenal. We could only do this by looking at the bigger picture and sharing data over a much wider area.”

The Collaborative Care Record has also integrated social care information from six local authorities to provide a more complete picture of the people it supports.

Minimal cost

Reed said: “The cost of doing this is minimal when considered on a population-wide basis. It’s effectively pennies per capita. If you compare that with the costs involved in not sharing data, such as in the case of the patient I mentioned earlier, there’s just no argument.

“And when you consider these programmes are fundamental to the delivery of integrated care, and underpin and help deliver most of the digital transformation happening in the system, you really start to see their value. Things such as secure data environments couldn’t happen if the data wasn’t shared in the first place.

“For our populations, systems and patients, I have absolutely no doubt it’s the right thing to do.”

Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.