06 December 2016

A fresh prescription for patient records


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Iain Carpenter


Two major problems stand in the way of making patient records work well for patients and the people who serve them. First, there are lots of variations in how health professionals record patient information in different settings. As a result, patients often have to repeat themselves. It's safer and more efficient for all records to be accessible and electronically transferable, rather than having multiple notes in many places. Creating a standard structure for records, agreed by healthcare professionals and patient groups, improves their quality and usefulness.

Second, if information gathered for one computer is not easily matched when transferred to another computer, then important clinical information is easily lost or misplaced in the electronic record. Our job, with our partners in health and social care, patient and IT fields, is to resolve both these two issues to achieve an electronically transferable patient record which is up to date and accessible to those responsible for patient care.

The PRSB is trying to do this job. We are a membership body. Our members are organisations representing patients, service users and carers; doctors and nurses; other health professionals; social care professionals; and developers and suppliers of software used in health and social care. Members span the four UK nations. Collaboration by this unique mix of members ensures that new standards are practical and realistic, and result in the creation of health and social care records that work for everyone who needs to use them.

Membership of the PRSB provides a unique opportunity to influence the content and structure of future health and social care records. Members play a vital role in bringing the experience of a service user, service provider or IT system supplier to discussions about what is ideal and what is feasible for various types of record. It's an invaluable mix of expertise, energy, commitment and vision.

Professor Iain Carpenter was founding executive chair of the PRSB and is associate director of the Royal College of Physician's Health Informatics Unit.

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