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February 2014

Drakeford praises Welsh IT mission

Health Minister endorses national technology services


A national approach to technology remains the way forward for NHS Wales, Health Minister Mark Drakeford said during a visit to the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) in January.


Mr Drakeford saw first-hand the national technology products now in use across Wales, and commended the once for Wales approach, "which has produced better outcomes at lower cost."


He said: "Our determination to achieve a national platform in IT operating seamlessly both within organisations and beyond organisation boundaries is one which I have always been very keen to endorse."



"The work you are all involved in has already transformed the experience of both working in the NHS and with its partners and the experience of being a patient in it, and that pace of change only seems likely to accelerate over the years ahead."


Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford      


In a briefing to informatics staff, Mr Drakeford announced a new national informatics board, which would allow the partnership between the national programme and local delivery to be as strong as possible. He indicated that he would chair the new board to have, "a clear line of sight as the Minister responsible for these things through to the national programme and onto the implementation of that programme in the NHS."


Looking ahead, he said that a new information technology strategy was needed for NHS Wales, but emphasised that a new strategy did not signal a new policy direction, or pulling back from the work already started, "those things we have embarked upon already we need to push ahead with."


"Our policy direction has been the right one," Drakeford added," [with] a nationally delivered programme put into practice in a partnership with all those people who use the product of the programme out there in the NHS."


Mr Drakeford thanked informatics staff and said their achievements were a credit to Wales.

Hitting the one millionth mark and more

E-referrals in Wales pass one million


More than one million electronic referrals have been sent by GPs for patients who need hospital appointments, passing the seven figure mark at the beginning of February.


The new system, which was made available to all GPs in Wales 18 months ago, replaces paper referral letters with a secure clinical message sent in an electronic format, streamlining the whole referral process.


Around 40,000 electronic referrals are now sent every month, with the one millionth referral being sent from Bryn Darland Surgery in Wrexham to Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.


Dr Martin Murphy, clinical director at the NHS Wales Informatics Service, which led on delivery of the e-referral service, said: "One million referrals is a significant milestone and demonstrates how technology can support better healthcare for patients.


"Within the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board almost 100% of GP referrals are now sent electronically and other health boards are working to achieve a similar uptake. Feedback from GPs is that this is saving an enormous amount of time and improving the process for patients."


Paper-based referrals take time to produce and can involve the GP dictating a letter for a medical secretary to type up, this then has to be checked, printed and sent. The letter may not contain the full information and can get lost in transit.

Find out more about how e-referrals are helping patient care.

New online service to bolster Over 50s health
'Add to Your Life' provides steps to live longer and feel better
A new NHS Wales online health check for people over 50 is being piloted around Wales in the run up to the national launch in April.


The 'Add to Your Life' service has been developed on behalf of the Welsh Government by an NWIS software team working in partnership with Public Health Wales.


'Add to Your Life' will be a free online health and wellbeing service to help people over 50 in Wales live longer, feel better, and stay healthy and active.  It will support them to discover more about their health, learn the simple steps they can take to stay healthy, and find out about services to help them make positive changes.


Programme Director Sue Mably, Consultant in Public Health for Public Health Wales, said: "We are really impressed with the work NWIS has been doing, helping Public Health Wales develop an online assessment tool that provides high quality personal advice. 'Add to Your Life' is an innovative resource, drawing together in one place reliable information from health experts and voluntary organisations. It will direct people to sources of advice and support across a wide range of health and wellbeing issues.  This development has benefitted from the input of many different agencies and groups in Wales, and we are pleased that NWIS has played such an important role in this work."


From April, everyone in Wales turning 50 will be invited to register with the online tool. The service will be accessible from any device that connects to the internet, like a smart phone or tablet computer. Telephone support will also be available, along with  community-based support from Communities First and Age Cymru.

Informatics @ Events
Wales in Manchester 


When it comes to information and technology NHS Wales has been doing things differently for some time. 


At the National Health IT HC2014 conference in Manchester on 19 and 20 March, clinical and informatics professionals from NHS Wales will provide insight into the successes and challenges of the national IT programme, which is well into the implementation phase, with many national services in pervasive use across Wales.


There will also be a preview of plans for a new information and technology strategy to integrate health and social care records and deliver future innovation.


Speakers include Andrew Griffiths, CIO for Health Informatics in Wales, who will chair the session, and Dr Martin Murphy, Clinical Director for Informatics and a practising GP.


To learn more, or if you would like to attend, go to hc2014.bcs.org

Informatics in Words
A milestone for pathology services

"This is a milestone for pathology services in Wales and follows extensive preparations by the pathology community. Instead of replacing 'like-for-like,' NHS Wales is on the road to one networked national system that will improve quality and efficiency."


Velindre NHS Trust Chief Executive Simon Dean, commenting on the new Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)  currently being rolled out to all Welsh Health Boards during the next twelve months.

Informatics in Numbers
The Video Conferencing (VC) service has been running for 10 years and its usage doubles every year.  We currently have 1100 video devices on the network, over 200 video conferences happen every day which equates to over 1000 hours of VC every week.
Unscheduled Admissions to debut IHR

Pilot uses WCP to access GP-held patient info



The Individual Health Record will soon be displayed for unscheduled secondary care

hospital admissions in a pilot project starting in Spring in Cardiff and Vale Health Board and following that in Aneurin Bevan Health Board.


The pilot will give clinicians and registered pharmacy professionals access to the IHR view through the Welsh Clinical Portal (WCP). It will initially be restricted to certain wards within the two health boards.


The IHR is a summary of the patient's GP record, allowing clinicians to view some basic information about their patient's medical history quickly.

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