Digital Health and Care Wales awards contract for clinical data repository

Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW), the organisation tasked with driving digital health advancement and innovation in the nation, has awarded a two-year contract to Better for a clinical data repository that will “help to transform care and treatment for patients”.

Through its “open-platform approach”, patient records are shared between clinical systems through common standards, supporting specialised treatments and research.

The openEHR data platform was chosen following an 18-month review process, and will form a “constituent part” of the national architecture. Patient record applications such as the Welsh Clinical Portal (WCP) are expected to make use of the openEHR based CDR to “create and retrieve data”, which it is hoped will also strengthen the electronic health record in Wales.

The Better Platform was selected for “persistence of structured clinical data”, which the company says will support DHCW’s Phase 1 open platform-based approach, accelerating standardisation of clinical data to support the deployment of new services. It cites examples of this as including the National Cancer Programme, Shared Medications Repository and Welsh Adverse Reactions Service.

It’s also expected that “exposing” this data to the new tools and services that are being used by the National Data Resource will allow NHS Wales to gain “new insight” on data across health and care domains, and that open standard specifications will enable access across organisational and regional boundaries.

Rob Jones, Chief Architect at Digital Health and Care Wales, said: “We were looking for an approach that would enable us to move away from siloed data and ease the burden on document storage. We know that we need to deliver a single source of truth for structured clinical data. Simply, providing instant access to patient data, at the fingertips of healthcare decision makers. Using an agile approach, underpinned by an open platform with separating applications and data, will allow us to deliver new digital services to clinicians and citizens of Wales, faster.”

Matthew Cox, Managing Director of Better for the UK and Ireland, added: “We are delighted Digital Health and Care Wales chose the Better platform to manage the clinical data which will enable the acceleration of the delivery of digital services. The platform will enable rapid innovation to take place in the applications, all without altering the underlying data structure. This will lead to better provision of care and better patient experiences – a core objective of all national health services.”

The first phase of the two-year programme will focus on the Treatment Repository for Cancer and Welsh Adverse Reactions Service, which are expected to go live in autumn 2021.

The news is part of an eventful few months for DHCW, which officially launched as a Special Health Authority in April 2021. Since then, the organisation has named its permanent Chief Executive Officer, and taken part in one of our HTN Now events by hosting a live webcast about its Aneurin Bevan University Health Board pharmacy system implementation.

During the webinar, Kate Headley, Project Manager, Digital Health and Care Wales told HTN: “Building on recent digital investment, we have a leading role in delivering the national programmes needed for modern technology-enabled healthcare. These are large-scale developments that will make a significant difference to the people of Wales.

“Our key responsibilities will be: mobilising digital transformation and ensuring high-quality care, expanding access to the digital health and care, delivering high-quality digital services, and enabling big data analysis for better outcomes.”

The announcement of the new contract for a clinical data repository appears to be very much in line with the latter aim, and also fits with Wales’ wider digital strategy, which was published earlier this year and includes a focus on data and collaboration.

The strategy states: “We want to improve the services provided by working together and make sure that all data is used and shared effectively, has consistent standards, is protected and gets to where it needs to go. This can include the innovative use of data and data analytics to radically transform the way we deliver public services by delivering new insight.”