NHS trust and social services build system to share records across multiple agencies

Care workers will be able to access records via a single view on screen

Care workers will be able to access records via a single view on screen

Croydon Primary Care Trust and Croydon Council's social services department are developing a multi-agency information sharing system to access residents' health and social care information via a single view on their screens.

The organisations are building the system using VisionWare's Multivue Identification Server, a person and property indexing tool based on Microsoft .net.

The first phase of the project is to unify data to support the single assessment process for older people. The technology will then be extended to other multi-agency information sharing initiatives such as supporting integrated mental health teams and creating an electronic social care record.

Mark Grollett, information services manager at Croydon social services, said his agency had 17 partner agencies with which it needed to share information, including the health service, police, probation service and other council departments.

"Initially, Multivue is enabling us to integrate data between Croydon Primary Care Trust and social services databases, but the flexible architecture of Multivue will enable us to integrate additional disparate systems in the future using the same technology framework," said Grollett.

The first step in the process was for the trust and social services to create a common index of residents and share core information from their respective systems. In April, 280,000 records from the trust and 150,000 records from social services were fed into Multivue and from this 42,000 matches were achieved.

Manual validation and data cleansing is now being used for the remaining records, focusing only on those residents who have had contact with either organisation in the past three years.

John Toole, head of health informatics at Croydon Primary Care Trust, said, "A common person index is a pre-requisite for any multi-agency information-sharing initiative. Before you can develop joint care plans or assessments, you must be certain that you are sharing information about the same person.

"Often, a person can be identified in different ways in different systems, including different ways of spelling the name or multiple addresses for one individual. This makes it virtually impossible to confidently share information."

Now that a common means of identification has been achieved , the trust and social services have started phase two of the project: to agree what level of information needs to be shared to support the delivery of integrated care.

When the data sharing protocols have been developed, Multivue will provide a unified view of a resident's details from the back-office systems. Information will be extracted from the two feeder applications using Microsoft's Biztalk Server, and Multivue will be used to create a shared repository of integrated records based on the common person index.

Health and social care practitioners will access the repository via a web browser, with record sharing only authorised if explicit consent has been given by the patient.

Read more on Business applications