“Huge demand” following pilot scheme which allowed medics to view summary care records via iPads, says the London Ambulance Service CIO.

Scheme for ambulance staff to access patient data remotely rolled out across London

By Tammy Lovell
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Ross Fullerton, chief information officer of the London Ambulance Service, speaking at an event in London yesterday

A scheme for London Ambulance Service (LAS) medics to view patient data while on the move via iPads is now being rolled out across the capital.

Speaking at the Healthcare Excellence Through Technology (HETT) event yesterday, LAS chief information officer Ross Fullerton said that 4,500 staff across 70 ambulance stations were being trained to use the mobile summary care record system (Mobile SCRa).

The project follows a 16 week pilot scheme run by NHS Digital, which launched the system to around 60 ambulance service staff in Camden in April.

“We were the first trust in the county working with NHS Digital to use this way of accessing the summary care record (SCR),” said Fullerton.

LAS is the only pan-London NHS Trust and deals with around 3.5 million emergency service calls and around 1.2 million face-to-face incidents a year.

Fullerton said ambulance staff found Mobile SCRa helped them to easily access information such as patients’ GPs, information about care home staff, and which medications patients were taking. 

However, he said the system was “not perfect” and staff had experienced challenges such as difficulty finding patients with common names and information not always being presented clearly.

“Our ambulance staff haven’t had access to data before. They’ve walked into a patient’s environment whether it be in their home, on the street or in their place of work and what they’ve dealt with is what’s in front of them,” Fullerton said. 

“If you’ve been doing that job for 20 years and we’ve suddenly given you a digital tool and asked you to look at the information on there and include that in your clinical decision making – that’s a real change,” he added.

In order to make the transition easier, he said training had focused on creating a supportive learning environment for staff.

“We’ve had to work really hard getting our crews to think about when to use it, when not to use it, to help them not spend so much time looking at the data because they’re worried about the clinical risk if they miss something,” he said.

As a result of the pilot scheme, Fullerton explained there had been “huge demand” to roll out the project across London.

“It has started an appetite for people to access data and use it in different ways,” he said.  

Fullerton is now focused on scaling up and rolling out the NHS Identity fingerprint recognition scheme to London ambulance staff.

“Whilst we have lots of exciting technology and developments across the NHS, if we can’t make life easy for staff to do this stuff, it’s all a waste of time,” he said.

The Healthcare Excellence Through Technology (HETT) event  took place at the ExCel centre in London on 1-2 October, with HIMSS as the official knowledge partner.

MobiHealthNews is a HIMSS Media publication.