e-Health Innovations, part of the Wellbeing Software Group, has announced the launch of a unique digital eConsent system, brought to market in partnership with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. eConsent will help support clinicians in adhering to General Medical Council Guidelines as highlighted in the recent Supreme Court judgement , which sets out that doctors must ensure patients are aware of material risks and provide documentary evidence of a structured discussion between a competent healthcare professional and the specific patient concerned. e-Health Innovations collaborated with inventor Mr Stephen Lake, a Consultant Surgeon to commercialise the Trust’s ‘home grown’ IT solution, which also streamlines and speeds up the patient consent process. eConsent prepares standardised forms for obtaining pre-procedure consent, in a consistent and comprehensive manner.
Mr Lake and the Worcestershire Trust have pioneered this innovative consent form template with its library of associated information leaflets. This enables consent forms to be created dynamically, pre-populated with patient demographics and presented to the patient in the context of the proposed procedure, along with an associated information leaflet. Patients undergoing planned procedures therefore have more time to review documentation and understand the risks and benefits of the procedure before agreeing to proceed.
Clinical ‘risks’ and ‘benefits’ are automatically populated based on the patient and the procedure to provide agreed, standardised and relevant clinical information. Having a standardised approach also enables auditing of clinical practices and with the additional benefit of reduced risk of litigation.
Prior to the introduction of eConsent at Worcestershire Acute Trust, only 49% of audited medical notes had documented evidence that the benefits and risks of a procedure had been discussed with the patient; only 69% of consent forms had the date that the consent was obtained recorded and only 63% had the patient’s NHS number recorded. All of these indicators (and others) were corrected to 100% by use of the digitized system. Furthermore, the 25% of hand-written forms found to contain illegible items (such as the name of the procedure to be performed) and the 21% of forms completed by a non-competent healthcare professional were both reduced to 0%. All of the Trust’s pre-introduction of eConsent audit data is representative of the current process throughout the wider NHS.
Stephen Lake, Consultant General Surgeon at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust says: ‘Since inventing and deploying eConsent at this Trust, we have been able to give individual patients much more information about the procedure, including the specific risks and benefits involved. The recent Supreme Court judgement means that clinicians will have to produce documentation to prove they have explained all material risks and eConsent does this. From the Trust’s point of view, it saves a considerable amount of time, as it means we can print out the individually adjusted pre-populated form, rather than the clinician having to handwrite it. Once completed, the individualised consent form is stored on the Trust’s server and thus becomes an integral part of the individual patient’s permanent medical records which can be scanned back into the system once agreed and signed by the patient.’
‘Our view is that we have achieved a solution which is facilitating us in the progress towards a paperless Trust. Furthermore, I have found the team at Wellbeing Software and e-Health Innovations to be very efficient and working with them has been an extremely positive experience, as they bring with them many years of experience of providing solutions to the NHS.’
Chris Yeowart, Director Wellbeing Software Group and Managing Director e-Health Innovations, says: ‘eConsent is one of a number of collaborative projects we are working on, in partnership with clinicians and NHS trusts, who have developed real solutions to real problems. It makes perfect sense that an IT company, such as ours, can combine with NHS experts to commercialise solutions which would otherwise be contained within a single NHS Trust. Not only can we release the value of such innovation to the wider NHS, but also an income stream for the host trust can be created. This is key to the ethos of e-Health Innovations and the companies of the Wellbeing Software Group.’
This joint venture thus combines the clinical expertise and advantage of a proven technology solution, developed at the coal-face with a UK based market leader of healthcare IT which has the infrastructure and experience to offer the solution to the wider NHS.