Communication has improved, with GPs knowing exactly who to speak to at their local hospital.
NHS Grampian has begun the rollout of Datix patient safety software to GP practices in the region.
One of 14 territorial Health Boards in Scotland and serving half a million people in the North East of the country, NHS Grampian is introducing Datix to GPs to promote consistent ways of working and shared learning across a clinically and geographically diverse area.
To date, 25% of all GP practices in the region are using Datix for incidents and complaints management. The project is already yielding a series of significant benefits, including better communication between primary and secondary care facilities and meaningful improvements to patient care.
NHS Grampian first selected Datix in April 2005 to support the Health Board’s long-term term initiative, Healthfit, dedicated to delivering improved health across the community. Since that time, NHS Grampian has built an effective patient safety framework that now manages all incidents, complaints, claims, Freedom of Information requests, safety alerts and risks across the organisation’s hospital environment.
Early in 2012, NHS Grampian decided that Healthfit would benefit from extending the original Datix implementation to the Health Board’s GP practices, including salaried and independently contracted professionals serving a varied urban and rural population living in a wide geographic region.
Michael Coulthard, quality and informatics manager at NHS Grampian, commented: "Since the initiative, communication has improved, with GPs knowing exactly who to speak to at their local hospital, promoting consistency and a joined-up approach to delivering patient care. Datix gives us the bigger picture, enabling us to step back and see if something is happening in just one place or at multiple locations. The technology has added structure to our processes and given us the evidence we need to make meaningful changes."
Because of the size and complexity of the project, NHS Grampian decided to pilot the inclusion of GPs on the Datix system before rolling it out widely across the whole region. It set up a steering group which involved key stakeholders in the local health community who best understood the needs of GPs and to help gain buy-in from the wider GP community.
Since the first GP practice adopted Datix in November 2012 the roll-out of the system has been encouraging. This has been helped by the original pioneering users of the new system continuing to recommend Datix to their colleagues.
The flexibility provided by Datix means that a variety of incidents and complaints can be handled from a single platform, everything from clinical incidents to those involving car parks and buildings. GPs represent different types of practices serving mixed patient needs in different locations, a reality that is reflected in the workings of the Datix system, particularly with regard to complaints handling.
Before Datix, complaints relating to specific GP practices might be held in several places creating inefficiencies in the complaints handling process. Today, Datix can act as a central repository for all complaints giving GPs a single, clear overview of any issues that relate specifically to their surgery and giving them easy but secure access to every piece of correspondence on each situation from beginning to end.
Jonathan Hazan, chief executive of Datix, concluded: "Our flexible, highly scalable solutions are ideal for large, complex NHS organisations facing constant change. Easy to use, they can demonstrate quick wins that instil confidence. At NHS Grampian, GPs have welcomed the system as an opportunity to improve communication and patient safety. At a glance, Datix provides a complete audit trail of incidents and complaints, putting GPs in control and empowering them to continually improve the overall patient experience."