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University Hospital of Wales launches digital cardiology test requests

The Cardiff-based hospital is switching from a paper-based system to a digital service, which is integrated into the Welsh Clinical Portal

University Hospital of Wales has implemented a digital system for sending cardiology test requests, hoping to improve data and expediate treatment.

The hospital, which is based in Cardiff, previously used a paper-based system for sending and receiving cardiology test requests. However, the process of filling out a request, posting it to the relevant department and then having someone have to interpret the handwriting on the form was cumbersome and copies of the form would go missing.

Service manager Mike Henson said the digital system has made it much easier and quicker to file requests. “With the paper process there could be problems with interpretation, we could receive inappropriate requests, and there wasn’t a consistency to the data. The new electronic system clarifies all that,” he said.

“There are fields on the digital forms that have to be completed in order to submit, and we don’t have to try to interpret bad handwriting. It means we receive all the information we need to make properly informed decisions about when patient tests need to be prioritised.”  

The digital system means that requests coming from both other departments in the hospital, as well as from outreach and community clinics, can be received and processed by the cardiology department immediately, meaning shorter waiting times for scans and appointments for patients.

The system is also integrated into the Welsh Clinical Portal, and those requesting tests can log in and view which tests have already been requested to avoid duplication.

The Welsh Clinical Portal has been around for more than a decade, and allows clinicians to access digital patient information, including test results, from across different healthcare settings.

Consultant cardiologist Jason O’Neill said the integration with the Welsh Clinical Portal, which is already used in the hospital, has been beneficial.

“It’s been momentous to be able to request a scan electronically. It’s an absolute step change from paper forms. The Welsh Clinical Portal is absolutely the right place for this. There are great benefits to having a single portal, and it’s worth the work to make it happen,” he said.

The next stage of the project will see an increased number of users being able to use the electronic test requesting feature through the Welsh Clinical Portal, followed by a wider roll-out to other health boards.

Last year, the Welsh government launched a digital health and social care strategy for the country, with a focus on creating a digital first NHS. This includes building a full register of digital services to better create a roadmap for the future, as well as building digital platforms fit for Wales.

“High-quality data is a key component needed to deliver integrated health and social care. It also needs to be shared easily and seamlessly between organisations when they need it and in near real time,” the strategy said.

“Our health and social care workforce will become a data-enabled workforce. They will have the skills, confidence, and information to do their jobs more effectively with improvements in safety, efficiency and quality.”

Read more about NHS Wales and technology:

  • Electronic prescribing in Wales will be deployed in both primary and secondary care, while a shared medicines record will be live by the end of March 2024.
  • As NHS Wales is due to launch the public version of its own app, Computer Weekly takes a deep dive into the technical aspects of the Welsh NHS app, future plans and whether the expectations for the programme have stacked up to reality.
  • The Welsh government has launched funding for pharmacy system suppliers to help deliver electronic prescriptions.

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