Time for information technology in healthcare to raise its game

The Care Database

Advances in medical practices and technology continue to improve care and benefit both provider and patient. But has the way patient information is accessed and managed by each provider been left behind? With the standard of information technology available today, shouldn’t healthcare professionals be able to access and update clinical records on the move, instead of, for example, printing out records ahead of a community visit, scribbling down notes during that visit and then inputting them later into an often clunky fixed terminal with no interoperability across providers? That was one of the questions asked by a leading UK care provider when they were searching for a new database which could manage their notes, care plans, bookings and rosters in one flexible system. Fast forward three years of extensive development and they are about to launch an intuitive, efficient and secure web-based system set to revolutionise care management for healthcare professionals.

The Care Database, which launches at the UK Health Show in September, is the first comparable system to offer remote access on any device, enabling greater flexibility and efficient working on the move. The remote capability also enables healthcare professionals, such as GPs, to access patient notes and care plans. The system features customisable care plans, allowing providers to build bespoke plans in line with their own service. The system also matches staff competencies to patient dependencies which in turn generate accurate team rosters to enable the safest care. The extensive list of benefits also includes access for patients or families to request bookings, key HR functions such as sickness, pay and training, and integrated invoicing for external funders, contractors and those with personal budgets. It’s housed in one of the world’s leading data centres which is N3 accredited for interoperability.

And yet, according to the team who developed the system, the project almost never got going. The idea for such a comprehensive care database was the brainchild of Shooting Star Chase, a leading children’s hospice rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission. The hospice has 15 years’ experience in managing clinical records and information for a quarter of the children’s market. “We knew our current system needed a significant overhaul to give us the requirements we now needed, and we originally assumed we’d sign up to an existing software provider already providing what we needed,” says Tom Bradley, Business Development & Technical Operations Manager at The Care Database. “We spent a lot of time searching for the right product and it was a little deflating to find there was nothing on the market which came close to the potential we had imagined for a modern care database. I remember a meeting in 2014 where we sat round the table after yet another period of looking at potential options from existing products. We almost reluctantly concluded that if we really believed healthcare providers needed a database with the features we had scoped, we were going to have to do it! I’m glad we took that leap of faith though, as I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved – we genuinely believe The Care Database exceeds the functionality and accessibility of any other care system on the market and the feedback we’ve had from other uses so far has confirmed that belief.”

The leap of faith saw Shooting Star Chase commission the development of the system to Geeks – a UK software developer and recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and Innovation. And although the commission came from a hospice, Tom says the system was designed with a bigger market in mind from the outset. “Once we’d outlined our functionality requirements, and committed to the investment needed to build such a comprehensive system, it was obvious this would be beneficial in a variety of settings beyond our own hospice market – surgeries, hospital wards, care homes and respite centres.”

One of the main benefits of The Care Database is the time it gives back to professionals to deliver care, and Tom used this as inspiration whenever the long hours of the development or the setbacks during the testing stage threatened his sanity. “During the early development stage I came across a quote by William Penn, the English entrepreneur whose democratic principles is seen as an inspiration for the United States constitution. He said: ‘Time is what we want most, but what we use worst’. That stuck with me during the project because the fundamental essence of The Care Database is about making the best use of the time we have. By making the information management aspect more efficient and intuitive, it gives back time to healthcare professionals to do what they do best – providing care to people in need. If it turns out that’s a result The Care Database, that feels pretty special.”

To find out more and arrange a no-obligation demonstration, visit our website or visit the stand at the UK Health Show.