A new approach to sharing health information


When you receive treatment or care, for example from your local GP or at the hospital, the doctors record the treatment you have received on their organisation’s computer system. Normally, only doctors and nurses in the same organisation can access these systems.

This means that for example, if you are seen in the Accident and Emergency department of the hospital, then the doctors there would not be able to see the notes made by your GP. As a result, it can be difficult for them to make decisions and work together to deliver you the best care.

To help with this, the NHS organisations in Oxfordshire worked together to launch a new approach, starting with the Health Information Exchange (HIE). The aim is to help health and care professionals view information that is on each other’s systems when it is needed for your care.  HIE is a viewing tool to enable just that.

With access to more information, health and care professionals will be able to make more informed decisions. For example, hospital-based staff will be able to access previous diagnoses, problems, medications you are already on and any tests you have already undergone, along with relevant treatment.

HIE enables health and care professionals to improve your care. Examples of the benefits include:

  • less repetition of questions for you to answer
  • Better coordinated and seamless care
  • More time for clinicians to spend on clinical care
  • Quicker diagnosis and treatment
  • Less paperwork

HIE replaces the Oxfordshire Care Summary (OCS) that has been in place since 2013 – for information about the OCS click here.


Which organisations are involved in HIE now and next?

The number and type of organisations involved with HIE will grow beyond the Oxfordshire NHS organisations that launched it. A list of organisations committed to cooperating in HIE from launch can be seen here

But HIE is a key step towards an integrated care record for Oxfordshire and its usefulness to professionals providing care will grow as more organisations join the scheme.  Scheduled to be added next are; Oxford Health Foundation Trust including Out of Hours service, Oxfordshire Social Care and the Ambulance service (SCAS).


Other developments 

Population Health Management using Population Health Insight and Dynamic Pathway Tool

Population Health Management (PHM) is a way of using unidentifiable data about a population’s health to plan specific services by helping the NHS understand current use of services and predict future healthcare needs.  That allows clinicians and managers to better tailor care and support for individuals - and design more joined up and sustainable healthcare services - so making better use of public resources.

In Oxfordshire, PHM is being implemented mainly through Population Health Insight (known as the HealtheIntent tool from Cerner), as well as through the Dynamic Pathway Tool, both of which bring together data from different sources to help understand Oxfordshire’s healthcare needs better.

Population Health Insight will look at interactions with health services over time to help design future care, identify groups who may be better served by a redesigned service, and/or target groups who may benefit from more proactive assistance. In this last case, only the clinicians already involved in your direct care may have access to identifiable information and contact you.

Those NHS staff members involved in service development/redesign only have access to information that does not enable individual patient identification.

Similarly, the Dynamic Pathways Tool combines multiple sources of data with the information that is held by NHS Digital together into one place, in order to bring to the NHS in Oxfordshire the most complete picture of the use of, and need for, health services. As with Population Health Insight, only information that does not identify you will be used to help improve services and plan. For example, using the information will help the NHS plan for the number of doctors, nurses and care workers needed to look after the population of Oxfordshire in the future.


Summary Care Record

The Summary Care Record (SCR) is a national NHS programme that allows information about you – such as allergies and medications - to be shared between clinicians to support urgent care across the country. Adding ‘additional information’ to your Summary Care Record, such as significant medical history, makes it a much more useful source of information for emergency departments and the ambulance service if they need to treat you wherever you are in the country.  More information about the SCR is available here

Please note that in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, additional information will be included in Summary Care Records for patients by default, unless they have previously told the NHS that they did not want their information to be shared. This will improve the flow of information across the health and care system, increase safety and improve care.  More information about this can be found here


The National data opt-out

There is a national campaign to inform the public about how their data is used for essential planning and research within the NHS.  You can choose to opt-out if you do not wish your confidential patient information to be used in this way.

More information is available here: www.nhs.uk/your-nhs-data-matters  

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