Somerset County Council (SCC) has gone live with the Rio Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system, making it the first local authority in England to deploy an EPR.
The system will support public health nurses to deliver effective care to children and families in Somerset, improve public health and reduce health inequalities.
The county council provides public health nursing services, which involves health visiting and school nursing, to 110,000 children in Somerset.
The introduction of Rio EPR, provided by Access HSC, aims to improve the efficiency of the service, making use of real-time data to enhance the local authority’s Healthy Child Programme provision.
Sarah Bourne, Children’s Nurse and Clinical Lead for the project at SCC said:
“It’s unprecedented for a local authority to provide nursing services like this, so we needed a system that was designed to meet our needs, so we can best serve the children and families of Somerset.”
The new system will automate many aspects of the care planning process, from appointment booking, to birth registrations to caseload allocation, so that children receive the care and support they need as quickly as possible.
Local authorities normally deploy non-clinical care planning solutions, but SCC selected an EPR as it would enable the organisation to extract and utilise more valuable data, which will help to inform the commissioning of services.
The public health nursing service is responsible for delivering more than 30,000 mandated health visits each year, which are now being administered and tracked through the EPR system.
Rio will enable the county council to identify where demand for services is higher, so the 150 Public Health Nursing practitioners employed by the service can be allocated more appropriately through data-backed decision making, enabling more timely intervention across the county.
Rachael Parker, Head of Public Health Operations, SCC, said:
“Delayed intervention is a major contributor to health inequalities.
“By improving the overall efficiency of the service, families can access public nursing services more quickly, getting the support they need sooner, so they’re less likely to need as much support later on in life”.
By working closely with Access HSC, SCC was able to configure the system to their specific needs, such as activating an integrated text messaging service to allow parents to book, cancel and reschedule visits, meaning more visits are conducted.
The council has been live with the EPR since October last year.
Now that all staff are fully trained to use the system, they can draw insights from the data they are inputting, such as understanding where there are the greatest levels of need and what types of interventions are needed.
The service also aims to leverage the data inputted into Rio to inform future services and continue improving public health of the children across Somerset County.
Steve Sawyer, Managing Director, Access HSC, said:
“Supporting Somerset Council on this unique journey has been inspiring.
“It just goes to show how important it is to be open minded and to think in innovative ways, as it can have such a positive impact on services.
“It’s never easy to be the first to try something new, and we’re so pleased that it has been a success.”