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NHS Wales makes digital promises



Five year strategy outlines plans for online access for health records, free wi-fi in hospitals and increased use of mobile apps for self-assessment

Patients in Wales are to get internet access to their health records, book appointments and order prescriptions online, and use mobile apps to monitor their conditions, according a digital care strategy from the Welsh Government.

Titled Informed Health and Care: a digital health and social care strategy for Wales, it sets out a five year strategy that builds on the country’s existing national ICT programme.

It includes a priority to deliver a portal by April 2017 that will enable patients to view information in their GPs’ systems, along with letters related to their care, and to update key details and report the results of self-assessments of their health.

Information increase

Later phases of the work on the portal will include making it possible for patients to view medication information, test results, relevant information held in hospital, community and social care systems, and to see which care professionals have accessed their records.

Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford (pictured) said: “The new digital health and care strategy I am launching today sets out our clear ambitions for far more digitally-enabled health and social care services in Wales.”

 “Giving people more control over their care and access to their records is an important part of the notion of co-production – the recognition that health outcomes are maximised when the contribution of patients as well as practitioners is captured and put to work.

Key features of the strategy closely reflect the recommendations made earlier this week by Baroness Lane Fox to NHS England, emphasising the advances of digital technology and efforts to get patients playing a more active role in their own care.

The Welsh strategy includes providing free wi-fi  in all NHS Wales hospital sites, and enabling patients to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions online, and use email and video conferencing for consultations with clinicians. The Welsh Government said this can reduce delays and the costs of services.

Similarly, patients will be able to access their health records, hospital appointments and details of GP visits online and to add information and feed in details from sources such as apps and wearable devices. This aligns with the principles of Prudent Healthcare, NHS Wales’ strategy for reshaping its services published earlier this year.

Reminders and alerts

In addition, they should be able to receive digital reminders and alerts to support their care – such as when to take medication – and to use smartphone apps to monitor conditions such as diabetes and asthma.

The strategy also emphasises that health and social care staff should make more use of digital tools, and have access to up-to-date care records for patients.

“Frontline staff who work in our health and care services must also have access to the very latest digital technology, which allows them to deliver services in new, innovative ways, that put the needs of patients first,” Drakeford said.

Picture from Welsh Assembly



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