EPR focus is “blinkered” and attention should be elsewhere

Access Health, Support and Care managing director Steve Sawyer has said that it is “blinkered” to solely look at and worry about electronic patient records (EPRs) because “it is not about the EPR anymore”.

In an exclusive interview with Digital Health News, Sawyer said “there is a bit of horses for courses piece to it” in terms of the EPR market but “it’s a little bit blinkered to look at and worry about just the EPR, because it’s not about the EPR anymore”.

“That I think is one of the biggest problems in the health and care sector. It’s not just about health and I think a focus on ‘this is all about the EPR’ is that same vision of it’s just about this patient record at this place in time, which is too far downstream,” he said.

“We’ve got to get upstream; we’ve got to get to the interventions with individuals before they end up in an EPR and in a hospital,” Sawyer added. He highlighted the importance of interoperability and how our “ecosystem of integrated health support and care… has to be a continuum” with “a point of first need through intervention”.

A patient’s needs are so varied and can differ to another patient’s needs, therefore in Sawyer’s view “it’s too narrow an argument to talk about a duopoly of two big EPRs”, and the focus instead should be on the individual and interoperability of different specialist systems.

“It’s all about the patient, or hopefully, the individual before they become a patient. If they become a patient, we’ve probably got to the wrong place, the longer we can delay somebody being a patient the better. So it’s all really about interoperability,” he added.

Key Access and NHS partnerships

Access Health, Support and Care have developed healthcare software for over 20 years and boast a complete portfolio of integrated solutions for the management and delivery of health services. The Access software is currently used by more than 45 NHS trusts for their day-to-day operations.

Sawyer highlighted a partnership with North East London Foundation trust, which Digital Health News recently reported, to deliver an integrated care platform that will bring together virtual wards, bed management and digitised transfer and discharge services to help improve bed management and the issue of delayed discharge.

He said the project is “a really interesting one because they (North East London) are working with us on pushing the vision of what a virtual ward is, how you create capacity in the system and how you answer the requirements of an ICB”.

“We’re tying together the multiple streams of it, not just ‘I’ve got a virtual bed or I’m just doing a bit of home monitoring’; it’s how you weave all those together that gives you real results,” he added.

Sawyer also mentioned the impact of the Access Rio EPR in the NHS and referenced the full go-live of the system at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust in just eight weeks, which was completed back in October 2023.

The opportunity at Rewired 2024

As our flagship show Digital Health Rewired edges ever closer, Sawyer stressed how beneficial it is for the digital healthcare sector to convene in person and shared ideas, problems and solutions.

“It’s great to actually meet up with people to talk with them, look at solutions and understand the problems. For me, it’s great value to get in a room with individuals,” he said. Access HSC are exhibiting at the event, “so we’re looking forward to seeing customers and prospective customers and partners and networking”, Sawyer added.

The Access HSC managing director also highlighted the session on the Digital Transformation Stage on day one at 11.15am, where Umesh Gadhvi, chief digital and information officer at North East London NHS FT will be presenting a case study on the work they have done with Access.

“I’d really encourage people to go along to that, because it’s a really interesting joined up picture with some great proof points of what’s going on,” he said.

Rewired24 takes place next week (12-13 March) at the NEC in Birmingham. It is free for NHS and public sector professionals, with CPD accreditation available for all sessions.

Private sector tickets are £475+VAT. You can view the final programme here and register online here to attend what is set to be another unmissable event in the digital health calendar. 

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