Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Evidence submitted by the Royal College of Radiologists (EPR 35)

  1.  The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) has approximately 7,000 members and Fellows worldwide representing the disciplines of clinical oncology and clinical radiology. All members and Fellows of the College are registered medical or dental practitioners. The role of the College is to advance the science and practice of radiology and oncology, further public education and promote study and research through setting professional standards of practice.

  2.  This response outlines the RCR's views on what information should be held in the Electronic Patient Record (EPR) and emphasises that it should build on and enhance the current roll-out and implementation of the national Picture Archiving and Communications System.

What patient information will be held on the new local and national electronic record system

  3.  The Electronic Patient Record (EPR) should consist of a Summary Care Record containing a very brief summary of the event, time and place, with hyperlinks for those with the appropriate access permissions to more detailed on-line information.

  4.  The types of events that should be recorded on the summary are:

    —  Previous major surgery.

    —  Previous inpatient episodes.

    —  Previous diagnoses.

    —  Information on allergies, including alerts relating to contrast media.

    —  Existing chronic conditions.

    —  Current medication.

  5.  We have debated what level of content would be appropriate for logging on the summary care record. It was felt that any significant episode which could impact on the patient's future healthcare management would be useful and every inpatient or daycase episode of hospital care is essential.

  The date that the record was last updated should also be noted.

  6.  The summary should then link to more detailed information including the patient's radiological reports and images and, in the future, cumulative exposure to radiation.

  7.  It is important to ensure that the Electronic Patient Record builds on and enhances the current roll-out and implementation of the national Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS). PACS enables the electronic storage and transfer of images. The benefits of this are numerous.

    —  From a patient perspective, it prevents images being lost or unavailable for consultations, therefore speeding up diagnosis and treatment. It also reduces the need for repeat imaging, meaning that patients need not be subjected to unnecessary radiation.

    —  From a clinician perspective, it allows for a much more efficient use of time and quicker reporting. As the images will be available across sites immediately, multidisciplinary discussions can take place at once, even if participants are in different places. It also allows the networking of services through hub and spoke type models.

  Therefore, it is vital that the EPR incorporates the benefits that PACS is bringing to patients in terms of safety and efficiency of care.

Whether patient confidentiality can be adequately protected

  8.  It is vital that patient confidentiality is maintained. However, it is equally important that this is not detrimental to patient care. All those who need access to a patient's records to diagnose or treat them, must be able to do so easily and efficiently.

How data held on the new systems can and should be used for purposes other that the delivery of care

  9.  The data could be useful for research, audit and teaching purposes.

Professor Janet Husband

President, The Royal College of Radiologists

15 March 2007

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Prepared 25 April 2007