Secondary Care

West of Scotland creates regional portal

Scottish health boards covering a population of 2.2 million people are able to share patient information now that a two-year project to create a regional portal has been completed.

Five West of Scotland health boards are covered by the project to link their Orion Health portals, with NHS Dumfries and Galloway the latest to join in July. Clinicians can now click on a simple link within their own health board’s portal to access the regional portal links, from where they can view test results and other information.

Nick Reed, a consultant in clinical oncology at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow, says this had already led to “huge improvements in communications and time savings. You have the ability to access results, forms and correspondence in a speedy manner, which allows you to make decisions in clinics very quickly.”

Finding information about these patients was a major challenge for clinicians. So, a West of Scotland Regional Information Sharing Board was established to change things, with an implementation lead at each board. Information governance and other key documentation was created once and then agreed by each of the heath boards. A minimum data set was agreed that included demographics, GP details, lab results, encounter history and clinical documentation. After that, health boards could decide for themselves what information they were able to share from their portals, which are at different stages of development.

Research done ahead of the project underlines this point. It found that doctors could spend 70 minutes per day looking for information about patients; and the value of that time was almost £20,000 a year.

The same research found that if doctors couldn’t find the information they wanted, a third would work without it and a sixth would order additional investigations and tests; which also cost money, and could delay care.

The regional portal is being well-used; already, clinicians are accessing 3-4,000 cross board records every week, and there have been more than 50,000 log-ons so far this year. However, it could be extended further.