Wales is set to invest over £8.5 million in its first national Electronic Patient Record and digital Electronic Referral system for eye care.
As part of wider plans surrounding Wales’ future approach to optometry services, the nation is focusing on preventative measures, along with management and treatment by primary care optometrists. This is in line with the Welsh Government’s ‘A Healthier Wales’ strategy that includes aims to deliver more care in the community and closer to patient homes.
£4.8m will be invested in a cloud-based system for modernising referrals and patient monitoring, with the aim to improve overall eye health outcomes. According to the Welsh government, the system will also give ‘hospital Ophthalmologists and community Optometrists’ access to ‘shared clinical information to monitor eye health and provide shared care’.
Support will extend to both hospital and community settings such as high street opticians, as part of a ‘single connected approach’. A further £3.506m of the funding will also be used to replace existing IT hardware.
The project is being led by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and has already commenced roll out across Wales.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, said: “Eye care services in Wales are very much leading the way and our plans for the future approach to optometry outlines how we can continue to progress and innovate. Central to its development is the new digital patient record and electronic referral platform, which will modernise the delivery of eye care treatment and enhance patient experience and outcomes.”
This approach is also in sync with NHSX’s drive to improve eye health through digital solutions. The organisation recently published an ‘eye care digital playbook’, as reported by HTN, which directs clinicians to tools that support patient pathways.
As a guide for eye care specialists, it provides resources and case studies to help professionals interested in utilising digital solutions, such a those mentioned by the Welsh government – including remote monitoring and referrals.
With an ageing population across the UK and The Hospital Eye Service accounting for 10% of all outpatient appointments in Wales, there looks set to be a much greater focus on improving and enhancing the eye care sector in the near future.
Among other recent developments reflecting this, Moorfields Eye Hospital in London announced plans to launch a specialist department of digital medicine to accelerate technologies in the field, including monitoring the clinical safety of digital systems, providing clinical input into the design of new tech and piloting digital services.
You can also read about Wales’ new, nationwide plans for fully embracing digital tools, as well as data and technology, to improve people’s lives across the board.