What is an EPR anyway?

This week has seen the launch of eHealth Insider’s latest campaign, this time titled ‘The big EPR debate.’

The campaign follows the successful crusade by EHI to encourage the NHS to consider appointing a chief clinical information officer to champion IT projects but this time it focuses on realising Jeremy Hunt’s “brave” vision of a paperless NHS by 2018.

With Jeremy Hunt recently clarifying that a paperless NHS means the ‘use of electronic patient records and communications,’ the new campaign aims firstly to better understand the views of the key stakeholders in identifying exactly what an electronic patient record is ahead of the guidance that NHS England is supposed to be issuing in June on the first step for trusts implementing an EPR.

The campaign appears to be a useful way for EHI to play adjudicator in an industry that does not appear to want (nor will it be offered) a centralised programme from the government but in most cases does want guidance and the sharing of best practice on how to meet the goal on both a local and national level.

Hopefully, the most positive thing about this initiative will be that it thrashes out the views and opinions of those interested and involved in enabling the NHS to become paperless without creating a lengthily, formal listening activity by the government.

The question starts at a very basic but is an extremely valid point. Ask a supplier what an EPR is and I’m sure that each answer will vary greatly depending on the solution that they provide and their faith in it. Ask a clinician or IT director and again, this will mostly likely depend on what is achievable for them and what can help them to get the best outcomes for their patients and organisation. While HIMSS has a successful six stage EMR adoption model that is regularly referenced in the US, there has been limited success in any concrete guidance on what an EPR should look like and what it should and should not do.

EHI is also going beyond that ‘what is an EPR’ question to ask what are the most clinically valuable parts of an EPR, and what can be left for later? What is the best evidence on benefits available?

And what steps are needed nationally and locally for different NHS organisations to make progress? EHI also asks what we can learn from other countries, primary care or the armed forces, the latter two of which are frequently cited as being ahead of the game.

Although NHS England have said that that they will view the debate with interest in the run up to the publication of the guidance, I have an inkling that EHI’s campaign won’t stop there… to get involved leave your view in the comment box on the news story http://www.ehi.co.uk/news/EHI/8517/take-part-in-the-big-epr-debate.

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