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Information sharing to improve the care and experience of mental health patients

Information sharing to improve the care and experience of mental health patients

In March 2018, an electronic health record viewer went live across the four mental health trusts in the West Midlands conurbation.  This means that if a patient needs urgent mental health care in a neighbouring area to their ‘home’ trust, for example if they live in Dudley but happen to be in Birmingham when they become unwell, clinicians can see basic data from their health record without them having to ask a lot of questions and the patient having to re-tell their story at this difficult and distressing time.  This not only provides safer care, but also a better patient experience.

The electronic health record viewer was rolled out as part of the Mental Health Alliance for Excellence, Resilience, Innovation and Training (MERIT), a partnership between the mental health trusts in Birmingham and Solihull, Dudley and Walsall, Coventry and Warwickshire, and the Black Country. These trusts have now been joined by Forward Thinking Birmingham, provider of mental health services for people aged 0-25 in Birmingham.

This work was driven by the ambition to improve the quality and consistency of mental health crisis care across the West Midlands and is underpinned by a robust information sharing agreement and standard operating procedures supported by Caldicott guardians and information governance leads in each trust. In July this year, the electronic health record viewer won the Mental Health Innovation category at the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network’s Celebration of Innovation Awards.

In a new and exciting development, leads at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust are working with the Birmingham and Solihull STP digital group to look at expanding the scope of the record viewer to include data from other health providers in the West Midlands, including GPs. Longer term this could be the potential roadmap to an STP wide data sharing system across all types of healthcare providers, great news for patients who have contacts across the NHS system and don’t want to keep giving the same basic information multiple times to different clinicians.