Frequently asked questions
Below you’ll find answers to the questions we get asked the most about our work.
What do you do?
We develop standards for digital health and social care records, based on research evidence and agreed by professionals and patients. We promote the use of standards so that people can receive safe, effective care.
Who do you work with?
The PRSB works across the four nations of the United Kingdom. We are a unique and independent body whose members include eminent health and care professional bodies and patient representative groups, with input from systems experts and suppliers. Much of our work is developed with our partners – NHS Digital and the Royal College of Physicians’ Health Informatics Unit (HIU).
What is a standard?
PRSB standards are made up of information headings for clinical and professional records and a description of the information that should be recorded under each heading. These standards for digital care records are intended for use by all health and care organisations, and they support better sharing of information between organisations and individuals.
How does this help share information?
The standards ensure that information is collected and recorded in a consistent way in all clinical and professional records. Having this common format and content means that information systems across health and care can identify and retrieve the right information when it is needed.
How do you create standards?
At the PRSB we are a first port of call for anyone who is developing digital health and social care records, who wants to ensure a consistent, coherent approach. As well as working closely with medical college members and patients, we also work closely with technical specialists in developing digital standards. Find out more here
You mean the NHS and social care don’t already share my information to make sure I get the best treatment?
Information is shared but it isn’t standardised, so the quality of records and timely access to them is variable.
As care becomes more integrated, patients are spending less time in hospital and receiving more care at home, at the GP surgery or in community-based services. Clinicians, professionals and patients need to be able to access clinical records that move freely between these organisations and information systems need to be able to speak to one another (interoperability) using common standards for what information is collected and how it is recorded.
National standards will ensure that that there is consistent high quality information in digitally shared care records and this is an essential ingredient in ensuring that information can flow freely between organisations and individuals who receive or provide care.
Will my information be shared without my consent?
As patients we understand and accept that information must be shared within the health and care team in order to provide care. Clinical and professional staff should also make sure they inform patients that relevant personal information about them will be shared within the healthcare team, including administrative and other staff who support their care, unless they object. Leaflets, posters, or information on websites should be available from providers and should explain how patient information will be used and shared.
As far as possible, how information is used and shared should be discussed face to face and a patient’s needs come first. In cases where a patient is unable to give consent – such as an emergency where the patient is unconscious or does not have the capacity to consent – clinical and professional staff should act in the patient’s best interests and explain any treatment and reasons for it once the patient has recovered.
But surely doctors and nurses know the best information to send to a GP when I’m discharged from hospital?
Yes, but everyone does it differently with variation in the detail which can be helpful or not. It’s important for patient safety and for high quality care that information is collected and shared under structured headings and in a format which works for all who need to access it.
Who can use the PRSB Standards?
The information record standards and the associated documents and guidance have been produced by the Professional Record Standards Body. The PRSB is a UK-wide, not-for-profit organisation established by the Department of Health and the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges. We encourage their use by commercial vendors to develop digital software applications that provide health and care solutions. The standards should not be used without permission for commercial gain by third party professional services business. The intellectual property remains with the PRSB and its commissioners.
Is the NHS and social care using the standards?
We are working with professionals so they understand the importance of the standards and the need to use them. We are providing education on the standards through a clinical and professional leadership programme so the standards become embedded into practice. Also patient representative groups are involved in the work to drive the changes so the new standards are used across the board to benefit patient care.
In what areas have you influenced new standards?
Some examples include standards for crisis care summaries, ambulance transfer of care to emergency departments, electronic discharge summaries for patients going from hospital to GPs and patients, standards for outpatient letters and mental health discharge summaries from hospital to GP care. You can read more about our standards here.
What does “using” the standards mean in practice?
The standards provide a range of headings designed to ensure that key information is collected and recorded in a consistent way. Trusts can compare the structure of their current discharge summaries with the standard headings, and adjust them to match, so that all Trusts are providing the relevant information in the same way. They do not need to wait for new IT systems to start using the standards now.
Doesn’t this just make more work for already stretched doctors and nurses?
The standards are designed by doctors, nurses and other health professionals, and are endorsed by the medical Royal Colleges as good practice. Doctors and nurses already complete records for patient care – the standards are about ensuring that this is done in a consistent, comprehensive way. Doctors who are already using the standards tell us that overall the time it takes to complete the summary is not very different to what they were doing before.
If you have any other questions that have not been answered here you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org