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17.06.20

Patient record flag could improve learning disabilities people care

Introducing a new flag on patient records for people with a learning disability can positively impact the healthcare they receive, a pilot scheme run by NHS Digital has shown.

The Reasonable Adjustment Flag, which lets doctors, nurses and other health and care staff know that a patient has a disability or other impairment and has specific needs that require adjustments so they get the best care.

These could include communication requirements, such as how to be contacted for appointments or changes to the environment, for example, the use of particular music to help reduce anxiety.

As part of Learning Disability Week (June 15 to June 21), NHS Digital has published initial results from its Reasonable Adjustment Flag pilot schemes, which took place between June 2019 and March this year at sites in Gloucestershire and Devon.

As part of the trial, staff securely created, accessed and updated the information on the NHS Spine using the Summary Care Record application (SCRa), a program designed to share key information about patients to health and care staff with appropriate access rights. In the longer term, clinical and screening systems will be able to integrate with the capability so that staff will also be able to see it on their screens in their own systems when they search for the patient.

READ MORE: Landmark IT deal struck to provide access to digital tools

The pilot scheme took place in various care settings including GP surgeries, hospitals and community services for learning disability, more than 70 flags were created by clinicians in conjunction with patients and carers.

As part of the flag, there was a wide range of adjustments identified which could positively affect the experience and outcomes for patients and the experience of carers and staff. Adding the Reasonable Adjustment Flag could also lead to other benefits, the pilot scheme’s initial data suggested, including financial savings through reducing the number of missed appointments.

Bev Farrar, Learning Disability Liaison Nurse at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Being able to access the Reasonable Adjustment Flag means that we can get it right for our patients and we have had really positive feedback on it so far.

“The flag also promotes confidence in our healthcare team as it provides useful information about how to best to interact with our patients as individuals. Recently we were able to make a reasonable adjustment for a patient to have his appointment details texted to him and this helped him to attend.”

Now that the technology has been tested and feedback gathered through the initial pilot, further development and testing is taking place. It is expected the capability will be more widely available from the end of the year.

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