The healthcare staff of the municipality of Örebro (southern Sweden) rates highly the National Patient Summary (Nationell patientöversikt - NPÖ, in Swedish) service. Nine out of ten NPÖ users are 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with it, and more than 60 % of them believe that it has been highly or very highly beneficial for their work, according to a recent survey.
The National Patient Summary enables qualified healthcare staff to access, with the patient's consent, online medical records filed by other caregivers and thereby obtain a comprehensive snapshot of the patient's health. This provides a better basis for diagnosis, treatment and monitoring while facilitating healthcare coordination between the healthcare professionals involved.
The survey was conducted at the end of 2011 by a market research company for Inera AB - a software company jointly owned by the Swedish counties - which develops IT services on behalf of the Centre for eHealth in Sweden (CeHis) such as the NPÖ project.
"This is the first major assessment of the municipal's staff attitude and it is part of ongoing quality work within the NPÖ project. NPÖ is not a complete IT service without being developed constantly. It is therefore important for us to know what users think," said Helena Svedberg Manager of the NPÖ project at Inera AB.
Örebro is the country's municipality with the longest experience of the National Patient Summary. Just over two years ago, the nursing staff of elderly care services started having access to their patients' data that the Örebro County Council had chosen to make available to other healthcare providers - patient name and contact information, certain medical records, diagnoses, drugs, patient contacts details at health and healthcare organisations, and results of several tests.
The assessment was done through an online questionnaire sent to approximately 300 nurses and occupational therapists. The survey results show that the frequency of use of the NPÖ varies. The most common motive for using the service is to supplement one's own information about a patient with test results and notes made by other caregivers.
Only a few of the respondents (10 %) believe that NPÖ's usefulness for their work is limited. Almost three out of four of the surveyed persons said they will be happy to recommend NPÖ to their colleagues, and as many of them indicated that they trust the system, which they find reliable and of high quality.
"Of course it is great to see that so many people are satisfied, and this will benefit the NPÖ. But some voiced criticism. Almost one in five users claim that the introduction has been insufficient," Ms Svedberg said.
The respondents were also asked about possible ways of improving the service. Some said that the IT service could be more user-friendly while others called for the access to information from several clinics and/or to most test results.
The context behind the NPÖ is the need for efficient tools that enable authorised health professionals to access patient information across organisational boundaries. NPÖ is the first of such common, county-wide ehealth solutions and a "plough" for the development of the required security solutions and infrastructure.
The NPÖ project is intended to improve key aspects of healthcare, namely:
Increased patient involvement: patients gain increased influence as they can decide to block access to their information for given carers, and it is expected over time that patients will get a better insight into their own care.