Secondary Care

Connecting Care goes live with a Care Connect API

The Connecting Care Interoperability Programme has gone live with its first Care Connect FHIR API so staff working with homeless and vulnerable people can see if they have a prescription for Opioid Substitution Therapy drugs.

The Care Connect interface links Orion Health’s integrated digital care record and the Cyber Media drug and alcohol system, Theseus, which is used by Bristol City Council. It was developed to reduce the risk of duplicate prescriptions being issued for controlled drugs, which can lead to overdoses and other serious incidents.

Dr Mike Taylor, lead GP at The Homeless Health Service in Bristol, said: “GPs working ‘in hours’ or ‘out of hours’ now have a reliable, quick, efficient way of knowing whether the patient in front of them is receiving opiate substitutes from drug workers outside practice-based care. Clinicians in hospitals can also be aware of this source of prescription. This has real potential for saving lives and reducing drug-related deaths.”

Emlyn Jones, technical lead for the Connecting Care programme said: “Our long-term goal is to create a consolidated list of medications for each patient, and this is the first step in doing that. So, we were looking for an interface that we could re-use, and the FHIR profiles felt like a good fit. We spend a lot of time in the tech community talking about FHIR, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try it. FHIR is polished by being used. By doing things, we get them right.”

Fran Draper, senior project manager and engagement lead, Connecting Care Programme said: “This was a very rapid project; from design to go-live took just seven weeks. It was an exciting project to work on, but it was just dipping our toes in the water. We want to go further, and to use this work to get into the technology of the twenty-first century and beyond.”

The Care Connect FHIR API initiative was started in 2016 and is at the heart of INTEROPen’s vision to create nationally defined HL7 FHIR resources and interaction patterns, to simplify integration and interoperability within UK health and social care. NHS Digital are supporting INTEROPen to foster collaboration between industry, standards bodies, informaticians, terminologists and health and care providers to define FHIR resources tailored to the NHS which support interoperability between health and care systems.

Dr Amir Mehrkar, GP and co-chair of INTEROPen, said: “Members of the INTEROPen collaboration have co-produced a set of national CareConnect FHIR profiles over the past year, so it is wonderful to see real implementation of these interoperability standards in the service.

“There is a lot more work to do but this is an important example of how sharing clinical information stands to make a real difference in patient safety.”

Connecting Care is one of the longest-running and most extensive integrated digital care records in the country, enabling secure, instant view only access to health and care records for around 6,000 professionals working in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.