Apps, News

Welsh portals link up with English trusts, update access to digital genetic results for cancer treatment

Digital Health and Care Wales has announced two new developments, cross-border sharing with trusts in England and an update on digital genetic test results.

The Welsh Admin Portal (WAP) can now, for the first time, link up with hospitals across the border in England. The system that is used to process electronic referrals from GPs to hospitals will now allow GPs in Powys to send digital referrals into three specific and nearby English trusts – Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, Wye Valley Trust, and the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.

Before the admin portal, the process was paper-based, but digital options will now be available. Benefits include hospitals sending status updates back to GPs, the ability to return inappropriate referrals, as well as being able to request further information from Powys electronically. Referrals can now also be fast tracked by ‘being sent directly to the appropriate team’ or diverted when necessary.

Merryl James, Project Support Manager, said: “It saves time and hassle for the patient services teams, saves time for the patient and most importantly is safer for the patient as referrals will no longer be lost or mislaid.”

Further work on the WAP is underway, and it is expected to be installed in more hospitals across Wales throughout the year.

Following another recent update, this time to the Welsh Clinical Portal (WCP), doctors in Wales can also now access digital genetic test results for urgent cancer patients.

The additional data, available through the WCP, means clinicians can identify whether genetic changes in patients could impact treatment, which Digital Health and Care Wales says will allow for the development of ‘more personalised treatment plans’.

Accessed through the All Wales Medical Genomics Service, the information includes urgent cancer test results related to numerous types of cancers.

Dr Samantha Cox, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, said: “The use of genetic testing in oncology is rapidly increasing and offers an exciting opportunity to tailor treatment for patients who are found to have certain changes in the genetic make-up of cells in their blood or tumour. However, in order to identify suitable patients and to ensure cancer treatments are given safely and in a timely manner, it is vital that the full original and unabridged report can be easily accessed by all members of the multidisciplinary team, regardless of which health board or speciality requested the test.

“The uploading of AWMGS cancer genomics reports onto WCP is a fantastic service development which is already benefiting patient care, especially given the recent move to virtual medicine and remote working during COVID-19. Results are now safely documented and stored in a central, electronic location and as reports are easily searched for (using the ‘GEN’ filter function on the WCP ‘Tests’ tab), clinical time is saved which means we can focus on planning and delivering patient care rather than chasing results. A huge thanks to all those involved who have worked to achieving this at pace despite the challenges of the last 12 months.”

The WCP system is now available as a mobile app and, according to DHCW, it is currently being used by over 27,000 members of NHS Wales staff.

In more Digital Health and Care Wales news, the organisation also recently awarded a two-year contract for a clinical data repository, following an 18-month review process.