The Peter Sowerby Commission report. Bringing together primary and secondary care data to improve patient care – Imperial College London – 17 June 2014
“Having the right information available is critical to providing good patient care. When several professionals and organisations are involved, sharing accurate information promptly is essential to integrating care for the individual patient. Analysing the data gathered while caring for patients is essential to auditing whether the best possible care is being provided, identifying how it could be improved and finding new treatments through research. It can also reveal how healthcare systems can be run more efficiently.
Many policymakers and clinicians consider better information sharing and more efficient use of the data in electronic health records (EHRs) to be important elements in providing safer and more effective healthcare that meets the twin challenges of financial constraints and increasing numbers of people with long-term illnesses due to an ageing population.
The relative absence in England of electronic patient records (EPRs) within hospitals, and the separation of hospital and general practitioner (GP) records have meant that clinicians do not always have the correct information available when treating a patient, and are therefore often unable to make relevant information readily available to clinicians in other organisations providing care. It has also limited the ability of the NHS and academic institutions to get the most from the information that is available about patients to improve their care, assess the impact of treatment or to identify how best resources can be used.
In February 2013 the Peter Sowerby Foundation, established by Dr Peter Sowerby, co-founder of EMIS, supplier of clinical information systems to GPs, hospitals and pharmacies in the UK, and his wife Ann announced a grant to the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) at Imperial College London. The purpose of the grant was to establish the Peter Sowerby Commission, with the objective of developing a strategy to bring together primary and secondary care data, and then through the Peter Sowerby Forum at IGHI to seek to ensure the proposals are implemented and to open new avenues for research to improve patient care. This report is the first output of that programme.
The Commission has found that much is going on to ensure clinicians have the right information available wherever patients are treated and to bring together the data locally, regionally, and nationally for audit and research purposes while preserving patient confidentiality. The recommendations of this report are aimed at making faster and more certain progress, raising standards of care in that process. We also need to look locally at how the NHS, universities and researchers can gather and make best use of the data to improve care now and in the future, forging ahead at a faster pace and more innovatively than can ever be achieved nationally.”
” Electronic health records are essential to good care, according to a report by the Sowerby Commission, led by Imperial College London.
Four out of five doctors surveyed said sharing electronic records among those responsible for a patient’s treatment improves care and two out of three said it would enhance their ability to compare treatment with best practice.
But medical records are currently separated in siloes – hospital, GP and clinic – and there are technical and cultural barriers to sharing them, including a reluctance by doctors to give up control.
After a year long investigation, the Sowerby Commission, a group of experts established by the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London with a grant from the Peter Sowerby Foundation, has concluded that there are major benefits to health from sharing records, first by ensuring all staff caring for a patient have access to details of their condition, medication and test results, and secondly to improve care for the whole population through audit and research – the results of which should be advertised to bolster public support.
But there are also risks.”
… continues on the site