Following Brighton and Hove Integrated Care Service’s (BICS) first year in operation, the not-for-profit organisation had a comprehensive understanding of its core values and recognised the need to implement a tailor-made patient data management system.

BICS, created to improve primary care in Brighton and Hove, employed database solutions specialists DCSL Software to work in close partnership to design and build a system that had specific functionality to meet the needs of the organisation and guarantee secure patient data.

BICS is a collaborative venture involving the GPs of Brighton and Hove designed to offer patients in the local area alternative options for care, as well as develop new specialist services within the region and provide a choice of hospitals where necessary.

All outpatient referrals made by local GPs are reviewed by specially-trained doctors at BICS to confirm that the referral is going to the most appropriate service or specialist to suit that patient’s needs, as well as checking that necessary tests and paperwork have been completed. This ensures that patients are being seen in the right place, by the most appropriate person first time around, together with helping patients make an informed choice about where they want to be seen.

Previously using a system that had been acquired from another NHS organisation along with various disparate spreadsheets, BICS recognised from the outset that a more specialist system would need to be deployed to manage the organisation’s expanse of data effectively.

Matthew Riley, operations manager at Brighton and Hove Integrated Care Service, said:

“We required a system that could be configured to meet our specific requirements and help improve internal procedures as a result, allowing us to continually track the progress of patients through one system. We recognised that the best approach for our organisation was to go down the tailor-made route rather than off-the-shelf and get exactly what we wanted, as well as have the opportunity to adapt as the organisation continues to evolve.”

He continues: “The Vedas system has greatly assisted in how we now manage data within our organisation. With the previous system we were often duplicating data from various applications, which was very time-consuming and impossible to analyse. It is critical to our operation that we are collating the correct data during the patient referral process to ensure we are meeting the needs of those patients in a timely manner, as well as meeting internal operational targets.”

Riley continues, “For example, our internal target is to obtain contact and progress a referral within three days. On average we receive 1,000 referrals per week meaning that patients sit at different stages of the referral and appointment process at any one time. The Vedas system provides an instant overview of a patient’s status. Through its colour coded status we can easily identify where each patient is in the referral process, which enables us to progress additional contact with the GP and those that require extra attention as and when necessary.”

For GPs it can often be difficult to stay abreast of the very latest information about every single symptom and the services available to treat them. The partnership between GPs and BICS offers the people of Brighton and Hove the reassurance that they are being transferred to receive the treatment required in the most appropriate care setting first time.

A fundamental requirement for the Vedas system was the ability to import and export patient information from the NHS Choose and Book system. Choose and Book is a national service that combines electronic booking and a choice of place, date and time for first hospital or clinic appointments. The local GPs refer those patients that require specialist care or hospital appointments to BICS via the Choose and Book system, BICS then utilises the patient’s records and its team of specialists to analyse each referral to ensure the patient is directed to the right services or professionals best placed to help that patient.

 “The functionality to import data from Choose and Book into Vedas significantly reduces the administrative burden, enabling BICS to add patient records rapidly and make contact with the patient as quickly as possible,” says Mr Riley. “Ultimately we are able to assist patients in making better informed decisions about where to be seen and offering alternatives to lengthy hospital waiting lists where possible.”

Mr Riley continues, “We now have a rich data set held in Vedas through the continued collation of patient information and the details of the services/specialists those patients are currently referred to. We are able to hyper-analyse this data and identify where additional community-based care services are required. It is important to us that we utilise the specialist care services that are already in place as well as redesign services to meet particular requirements of patients in the local community. In many cases patients are able to be seen in shorter time frames rather than having to wait for a hospital appointment and are often seen closer to their home.”