An NHS trust has gained real time access into the organisation's national database of patient details by using a new software system.
Medway NHS Foundation Trust in Kent said it is able to access patient details previously unavailable by using technology from independent healthcare IT systems provider Quicksilva.
The company's orQestra solution connects trust and hospital departments to the NHS's Personal Demographics Service (PDS), the electronic database that holds the name, address, date of birth and NHS Number of patients across the UK, said the firm, thus ensuring data held across the country is accurate and current.
The Medway trust treats around 1,800 patients every day, with around 275 of those requiring emergency treatment, and another 200 needing hospital care.
The importance of maintaining a frontline service for these numbers meant the trust had not had the time to integrate several of its departments with its own in-house patient administration system.
As a result some of the trust's departments had sacrificed maintaining the data of patient demographics to instead concentrate on its frontline service.
However, business intelligence manager at the trust, Brian Hughes, says that poor quality of data leaves trusts open to substantial financial risk, as the NHS would not reimburse trusts for treatments where there were differences between the central NHS's data about the patient and the information held by the trust.
He adds: "Access to accurate patient records is vital for us, if the wrong information goes against a patient such as an incorrect NHS number it can lead to financial penalties for us.
"OrQestra® will allow us to stop relying on manually obtained patient information, and enable our clinical staff to spend less time on administrative tasks which are prone to error and concentrate on the quality of service delivered to patients."
By using the software, Medway was able to connect its radiology and audiology information management systems to the PDS so they could share data and thus get accurate information , and it plans to roll out the system to more departments over the course of 2014.
Gayna Hart, Quicksilva MD, said: "Accurate patient records are absolutely essential if NHS organisations are to give patients first class treatment and report accurately against their treatment. NHS numbers are soon to become mandatory and from 2015 we'll see more organisations suffering financial penalties if they don't look to improve accuracy."