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Staff at the Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust now have immediate access to national patient demographic services, helping them to provide better and safer patient care using the CfH accredited InterSystems HealthShare software

Eton, UK — August 14, 2012—InterSystems, a global leader in software for connected care, today announced that Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust is the first to Go-Live using InterSystems HealthShare Spine Mini Services Provider, after the service was accredited as part of NHS Connecting for Health’s Interoperability Toolkit (ITK 2.0) initiative.  This new software provides users with on-demand access to the Personal Demographic Service (PDS) from the NHS Data Spine, and is a component of InterSystems HealthShare, a strategic healthcare informatics platform for information exchange and active analytics.

The Trust’s Information & Communication Technology (ICT) service, known as Plymouth ICT Shared Service, implemented a solution using HealthShare to enable the Trust to ensure safer, more streamlined and coherent patient care by accessing the most up-to-date demographic data using the NHS Number as the primary patient identifier.  Importantly, it enables the Trust to provide safer care for its patients, better manage costs and save time by reducing duplicate local patient records for those without an NHS Number, or having incorrect General Practitioner (GP) details. Having the correct GP details for a patient also makes it easier for the Trust to obtain secure, prompt and accurate reimbursement from care commissioners for that patient’s care.

Consultant Surgeon at the Trust, Mr Simeon Brundell, said, “I am pleased that in conjunction with InterSystems, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust is at the forefront of the integration of local hospital data with nationally held data. This will help in patient treatment and make our systems safer.”

Previously, the Trust relied on the Demographics Batch Service (DBS) to validate patient information against the PDS.  This involved the submission of batched patient information for tracing against the PDS.  As a consequence of the delays in this process, important patient information held in operational systems could be incomplete or inaccurate at the point-of-care.  The Trust decided that it needed a solution which would provide accurate, up-to-date information in real time to update patient records and alert staff to potential problems. This would improve the overall quality of its patient data and reduce the risk of inaccurate problems or incomplete information being presented to clinicians.

Plymouth can now invoke Spine Mini Services directly from their InterSystems integration platform. This means that as patient administration events occur in different systems a Spine Mini Services request to verify NHS numbers is triggered. This will find the NHS number, obtain address and contact details, obtain the deceased status, and get the patient’s GP practice information — all in real time. Plymouth then use this information to enrich the event messages, update their systems, or alert data quality teams of any issues.  Importantly, because the Spine Mini Services request is made in real time, they are able to drive this intelligent action as the events occur.

Andy Blofield, Director of Plymouth ICT Shared Service, added, “The new system provides crucial and timely alerts that help to improve patient safety and reduce the time spent merging records. For example:

  • Duplicate registrations are identified, in real time, whilst the patient is still at the front desk. A newly registered patient has no history and, if duplicates are not picked up at the time of registration, clinicians can treat patients unaware of the clinical history that should be available to them. There is also a considerable overhead in merging patient records once separate notes have been created.
  • Deceased patients alerts. If we have not yet been informed that a patient has passed away, it is possible that we could send a letter to the deceased patient’s family for a missed outpatient appointment. Clearly, this would be a cause of distress, but now we have the means to prevent such unfortunate occurrences from happening.”

The new system has also delivered some unplanned benefits for the Trust.  As Sue Bracey, Head of Software Development and Integration at the shared service, explains, “Previously, when our data quality team updated a record on the Patient Administration System (PAS), they would have to wait several days for the batch processing to update the PAS with the verified NHS number, assuming a match was found.  If there were still issues after the DBS trace had run, this could cause a considerable delay in updating the patient information. In addition, this was quite time consuming for the team at the Trust who could not verify every update.  With the new solution, when the data quality team investigate issues and correct a record on the PAS, that event triggers the Spine Mini Services check, and within seconds, the NHS number is verified and the PAS updated so the user knows straight away if their update was successful or not.”

Sue Bracey added, “We identified a case in Accident & Emergency (A&E) where a patient attendance was recorded against the wrong patient. The HealthShare Spine Mini Services check revealed that the erroneous patient was deceased, this alerted the data quality team who investigated immediately and found that the user had selected the wrong patient in recording the A&E attendance and this could have had quite serious consequences.”

Finally, using InterSystems’ HealthShare Spine Mini Services will help Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust avoid potential penalties for holding inaccurate data and support the Trust in complying with the Department of Health’s 2015 deadline concerning the use of the NHS Numbers as the primary patient identifier. In addition, it will support the Trust in its ambition to improve patient care with organistational data sharing to support patient pathways for which a checked and verified NHS number is a key component.

Jonathan Selby, UK & Ireland Country Manager at InterSystems, added, “I believe that Plymouth’s success in using InterSystems ITK 2.0 accredited HealthShare software is an important example of how InterSystems is supporting the Department of Health’s ‘power of information’ health informatics strategy, which has consistent use of the NHS Number as a pre-requisite for transforming the way that patient information is used.  We have designed HealthShare to play a strategic role in creating more connected and effective healthcare systems worldwide and the addition of Spine Mini Services will help make this a reality in the UK.”

The new version of HealthShare is available now through InterSystems offices worldwide, and Spine Mini Services is available to NHS Trusts throughout the UK.

About InterSystems

InterSystems Corporation is a global leader in software for connected care, with headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts and offices in 25 countries.  InterSystems HealthShare is a strategic healthcare informatics platform for information exchange and analytics within a hospital network, and across a community, region or nation.  HealthShare leverages InterSystems iKnow and DeepSee technologies to unlock all patient information, including unstructured data, and to enable real time analysis. InterSystems TrakCare is an Internet-based unified healthcare information system that rapidly delivers the benefits of an Electronic Patient Record. InterSystems Caché® is the world’s most widely used database system in clinical applications.  InterSystems Ensemble® is a platform for rapid integration and the development of connectable applications.

For more information, visit,,, or @InterSystems on Twitter.

Editorial Contacts

Alizia Walker/Darren Young
Bell Pottinger
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Helen Dew
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