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E-document system gives social care workers faster access to records

Ian Grant

Leicestershire County Council has implemented an electronic document management system to provide its social workers with fast, easy and secure access to adult social care records over the internet.

The system is based on Morse's Wisdom enterprise content management technology running on SQL Server. It is likely to form the basis for a new intranet and later an internet-based communications system for the council.

Mick Harris, IT and information manager for adult social care services at Leicestershire County Council, said the system serves more than 16,000 social care records to 1,200 social care workers who deal with adult cases, and another 300 who deal with children's cases.

"A recent user survey showed that 67% of staff spent less time looking for data, 61% spent less time filing records, 59% felt better informed as a result of the system, 89% said they had better visibility of their case file information, and only 8% would be happy to go back to the paper system," Harris said.

To speed up response times and add resilience, the council has installed caching servers at strategic points to service social care workers, who are increasingly mobile in their work. The Dell-based system can handle up to 600 concurrent sessions.

Harris said the need for the document management system arose from a directive from the Department of Health to put social care records online. "It was seen as a way to improve delivery of social care services. We regarded the expense as part of developing the infrastructure to do that, rather than as a project cost," he said.

Leicestershire County Council has not back-scanned paper records, and will not do so for adult records, he said. It is, however, enrolling children's records - a task which should be completed in April next year. Data can include images and video as well as text, said Harris.

The document management system allows social care workers to access records from anywhere in the county, and, as the records are stored centrally, they are complete and unique. The documents are most commonly accessed from fixed data links, but the council is "feeling more confident about wireless", said Harris.

Given the sensitivity of the data, security is tight. All access is governed by the role of the person with respect to the subject. "If a user has not got official access to the individual, they cannot see the record," said Harris.

Similarly, access to documents and folders concerning a case is restricted to the teams involved and for the necessary tasks.

Electronic records improve care services >>

Electronic records speed care response >>

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