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The roll-out of integrated electronic patient records begins next year. But what are they and how will they affect nurses? Fiona Barr reports.
Support for integrated electronic patient records is certainly not lacking from the nursing profession. In fact, it would be hard to meet either a practice or community nurse who views them negatively. An RCN survey conducted this year found that two out of three nurses believe integrated records will improve patient care, with most of the rest unsure about what they entail rather than opposed to the general concept.
However, the survey also revealed that just under three-quarters (72 per cent) of nurses feel ill-informed about developments surrounding integrated records and 63 per cent said they had not been involved in any consultation, the same percentage as when the survey was conducted in 2004.
Despite this knowledge gap, nurses are right to welcome the innovations, according to clinicians involved in establishing the NHS Care Records Service (NCRS).
Value of a shared record
Dr Gillian Braunold, one of two GPs who are leading development on the content of the NCRS for Connecting for Health, is unequivocal about the increased value of a shared record.
'I believe one benefit of the NCRS, which is rarely mentioned, is that it will immeasurably improve the status of nurses once we can see all the things they are doing,' she explains.
Before the NCRS can become a reality, however, …