Improving electronic information sharing for palliative care patients

Amanda Pringle, Anne M Finucane, David Oxenham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coordination of services used by palliative care patients across care contexts is essential in providing patient centred care. In Lothian, Edinburgh, a baseline audit in 2008 of patients known to all four specialist palliative care teams revealed only 49% had information available to out of hours (OOH) general practitioners (GPs). This highlighted the poor handover and sharing of information, which are essential for providing quality care for palliative patients in accordance with their wishes, and for reducing inappropriate hospital admissions. A number of quality improvement measures have been introduced, some nationally in Scotland, such as the roll out of Electronic Palliative Care Summaries (ePCS) - an electronic register containing up to date information including patient wishes and latest treatment decisions. In addition there have been changes to the GP Quality Outcomes Framework encouraging the use of electronic records. Locally, at Marie Curie Hospice, drivers were implemented including hosting GP education evenings promoting ePCS use, alteration of hospice discharge letter format to complement ePCS completion, in addition to offering specialist nurse support and presence at GP practice palliative care register meetings. A re-audit in 2012 revealed that 75% of specialist palliative care patients had electronic information available to OOH services, and in 2013, 71% of patients. This represents a significant improvement in electronic information sharing across care contexts. Building on the progress of ePCS, a new Electronic Key Information Summary is currently being rolled out across Scotland. This quality improvement report reflects on the positive measures taken to address the important clinical need of effective electronic handover for specialist palliative care patients in Lothian. Furthermore, it highlights the ongoing requirement to continue to improve the quality and availability of electronically shared information for every patient known to palliative care services across care contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ quality improvement reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2014


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