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Scottish clinicians to get easier records check on patients’ COVID-19 vaccine status

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Scottish health and care professionals across a wide range of clinical settings, including NHS Scotland health boards, are being given access to an individual’s COVID-19 vaccine status through the Orion Health shared care record used in 11 out of the country’s 14 health boards.

A project commissioned by the Scottish Government is enabling the COVID-19 vaccine information held in the National Clinical Data Store (NCDS) to be displayed in a tab in the shared care record.

Health and care professionals from four health boards in the North of Scotland, which use a regional ‘Care Portal’, and from NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Fife can already find out whether a patient has been vaccinated, when, and which vaccine they received.

The rest of Scotland’s health boards are either rolling-out or planning to roll-out the functionality, so their clinicians have more information about patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or side-effects from their jab.

The clinical summary views within the Orion Health Shared Care Record may also be used to display other immunisation data in the future.

Iain Ross, the head of eHealth at NHS Highland, which acted as the delivery agent for the Scottish Government for the vaccine integration project, explained that the idea grew out of preparations for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines last year.

“This has been a really good example of collaboration to improve support for patients,” he said. “The Shared Care Record is simple to access and simple to use, but that simplicity marks many days of hard work by many people from different parts of NHS Scotland, who worked together to deliver this functionality.”

Scottish citizens can be vaccinated at a vaccination centre or at their GP surgery. The Scottish Government commissioned a number of organisations to build a national Vaccination Management Tool to enable staff working at vaccination centres to create a vaccine history for the people they jabbed.

GPs recorded this information in their practice systems, information from both sources was also stored in the NCDS. However, emergency clinicians and other health and care professionals who might be involved in a patient’s care couldn’t view it in the NCDS.

To address this gap, the COVID-19 vaccine view project was set up. The Scottish Government commissioned the work, while NHS Shared Services Scotland (NSS) helped with the contractual arrangements. Technical and clinical expertise was provided by NHS Highland.

All these organisations then worked with the NCDS and Orion Health to create a link between the data store and Shared Care Record. The integration project made use of the very latest Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards.

Nick Willox, sales director for Orion Health in Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government wanted a way to get the vaccine status of the population out to NHS Scotland providers and clinicians. Our Shared Care Record covers approximately 75 per cent of the population, so we offered the best platform to do that quickly and safely.

“The project shows how investment in open, scalable data platforms enables health and care organisations to rapidly develop new functionality in response to emerging threats or clinical needs. By working in partnership and making use of the latest FHIR standards we were able to deliver the integration in a very short space of time.”

Aaron Jackson, Medicines Product Director for Orion Health, agreed. “This is a great example of us being able to consume the FHIR API to show information in our Shared Care Record,” he said.

“The NCDS is exposing the latest FHIR Core standard in use in the UK. So, this project is right at the bleeding edge of standards used; but it’s also a good example of how FHIR can be used in a refined way. The connected Shared Care Record is supporting the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out now, but it will be available to support childhood and seasonal vaccination programmes in the future.”

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