HEALTH workers who cover a 700-square-mile patch now have the means to update their patients' records while out and about.

The completion of a six-month "agile working" project for the community teams from Airedale and Skipton Hospitals has enabled the staff to use laptops to view and update records in real time.

It has been designed to improve communication between professionals, while saving time so more patients can be seen in a single day.

The community teams includes nurse specialists, health care support workers and therapists.

They provide care in clinics and in the patient’s own home, helping them to manage long-term conditions or provide palliative care. Staff try to prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital and work to get people home quickly and safely if they have needed hospital care.

An Airedale NHS Foundation Trust spokesman explained: "The challenges of providing care in this geographical area include long travelling distances and time spent away from base during visits.

"The introduction of the new SystmOne project means staff can now work remotely, taking their laptops to every home visit.

"They can update a patient’s notes, order prescriptions or equipment or refer a patient to other professionals or services, all at the home visit or immediately afterwards.

"Patients too have been supportive of the change and have been impressed with the team’s ability to use the latest technology in their own home."

Trudy Balderson, head of community services at Airedale, said: “Some of the community teams have been using SystmOne for a number of years but they've been running manual and electronic records in parallel.

"This project has provided a real opportunity to streamline our systems and processes to reduce duplication and enable more agile working.

"By using SystmOne in this way we can provide more joined up, seamless care for people by making prompt referrals and sharing care plans. Changes to medication can be shared with GPs and other health professionals in real time.

"Community services cover a vast rural area, so it's important to use digital technology to support the delivery of care where possible."

District nurse Wendy Maudsley said: “I feel proud that as a team we embraced the challenge and together have implemented a system that's working really well.

"Having up-to-date information at the point it’s needed has improved patient safety, enabled effective communication between different services and our time spent on administration has been dramatically reduced as we’re no longer writing paper notes.”

Tracey Hellawell, heart failure nurse specialist, said: “Our patients don’t feel it detracts from their consultations. They actually say it has enhanced our service as we're able to do a comprehensive review because we can access their medical records right there.”