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Mersey Care to trial ‘game-changing’ system integration

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Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust is joining forces with Access HSC to integrate the Rio EPR and Elemental systems.

The integration is set to enable more than 700 mental health professionals across Merseyside to refer patients to social prescribing services provided by The Life Rooms, directly through the EPR (electronic patient record).

The Life Rooms provides specialist social prescribing support, advice and community opportunities to anyone who needs it from its three main locations and 20 mobile sites.

Gary Thorpe, Service Lead and Head of Integration at The Life Rooms, which is managed by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“In any clinical journey, there are points where people need additional social support.

“The idea of merging these two pathways will be brought to life by the Rio EPR-Elemental integration as we roll it out across six major boroughs.

“Our intention is to connect hundreds  of clinicians so that they are able to refer with assurance that another specialist NHS service, The Life Rooms, is providing the right services to support people who need both clinical and social support.”

Many of Mersey Care’s mental health clinicians are spending a significant amount of time each day prescribing social support which can limit the number of clinical interventions that they can deliver.

It is hoped that the Rio EPR-Elemental integration will significantly reduce this time or eliminate it altogether.

The integration is expected to free up clinical time by approximately 20 percent once it’s successful.

The move will help reduce the backlog in mental health services and ensure more people can get the care they need.

Lyndsay Thompson, Mersey Care’s Operational Manager, said:

“We hope the Rio EPR- Elemental Integration will give clinicians the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to linking our services directly with social prescribing activities, and in turn see how these can help patients.

“Referrals to social prescribing activities, such as help with housing, advice on finances or classes to help the individual retrain or return to the workforce, should be far more efficient and streamlined through the integration, and we expect this to significantly free up clinician time.

“We are also very excited when we can start referring our patients to Life Rooms, which offers complete transparency on social prescribing outcomes.

“The possibility that we’ll be able to see the immediate impact our referrals have for patients is something we are really looking forward to.”

The Rio EPR-Elemental integration aims to reassure clinicians that they are referring patients to safe and appropriate services.

Through the initiative, clinicians will be able to track what services people have accessed and monitor the impact on outcomes within the EPR, all in one place.

It will also ensure that sensitive clinical information is not shared inappropriately, with the social prescribing teams at The Life Rooms only seeing the information needed to handle the referral.

This is the natural next step in terms of connecting clinical care and social prescribing to improve care pathways, Thorpe explained.

He added:

“This could be an absolute game changer for clinical teams and services.

“As a clinician, if you are identifying social needs in a vulnerable individual you will be able to refer them easily and have full line of sight.

“It will help clinicians do their job whilst being able to monitor and see the impact of everything in the EPR.

“By making it easier to identify patient needs and refer them to the right social prescribing services that meet those needs, we can tackle the social problems that lead to worsening mental ill-health and free up clinical time.”

Steve Sawyer, Managing Director and Access Health and Social Care said:

“By integrating EPR and social prescribing tools into one system, we’re expecting to see seamless transitions between care pathways to ensure patients receive the right support by clinicians every time, and that their health problems are resolved at the root of the issue.

“Access HSC is working to find means that help reduce process times for clinicians, thus helping deal with the patient backlogs they face post COVID-19 and support communities getting access to joined up care.

“This integration should play a significant role in helping to achieve this goal.”

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust will be the first trust to trial the integration which is slated to go live later this month across early intervention, community mental health and crisis teams.

The trust has been using Rio EPR since 2015 and Elemental since 2016.

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