Today saw the launch of the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB), a new organisation tasked with helping health and social care providers keep consistency when storing patient records.
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The establishing of the PRSB comes at a time when the NHS is working towards two goals laid out by the government: firstly, for every citizen to have access to an online medical record by 2015; and secondly, to have a paperless NHS by 2018.
The PRSB will take a lead on helping with the former by providing advice on standards for collecting and maintaining data, as well guidance on the technical implementations of the necessary IT equipment to do so.
Founding members range from the British Computer Society to patient group National Voices, alongside a number of clinical professional bodies such as the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nurses.
However, it will also work closely with the industry and suppliers to ensure they know the technology required by the NHS to get the most out of its data and enable a smoother experience for patients with health or social care issues.
Mark Davies, the interim executive director of clinical at the health and social care information centre (HSCIC), an organisation tasked with collating data from across the sector which is set to work closely with the PRSB, welcomed the launch.
Speaking at the launch during this week’s HC2013 in Birmingham, he said: “You would have heard in the past few days of a number of examples how the information landscape on both a national scale and a local scale is changing.
“As we move towards a clinically led, patient-focused NHS that is squarely focused on the systematic outcomes, openness and transparency and duty on candour, this is absolutely pivotal, and the significance of this launch is really difficult to overestimate.
“This is a really good opportunity for realigning the natural chronology of the development and putting clinical leadership and engagement at the heart of our information systems.”
Iain Carpenter, who will sit as the chair of the PRSB, said he wanted the body to be the first port of call for providers and recipients of health and social care to help guide them on their way to a stronger, more robust system of electronic health records.
“The way we record things on paper we learn through almost apprenticeship… meaning everyone does them in different ways,” he said. “With paper [records] you can just about get by, but with computers, if everyone does things differently, it will create a nightmare in ICT,” he said.
“We need to be smarter. If you structure the records and start developing electronic health records where the right data is recorded in the right place… by 2018 care episode statistics should be available almost at a push of a button. [We will have] organised data that will be immensely useful.”
Although the first standards for electronic health records were released in 2008, they have been continuously updated, and since the arrival of the coalition government in 2010, there has been more pressure to fit with the restructuring of the NHS as ordered by the Department of Health.
Next week, the relevant bodies will sit again to discuss the most recent standards, and if all goes to plan, they will be approved soon for the PRSB to advise on.