18 Dec 2015 Healthcare gets smart as digital plans set to transform NHS

DIGITAL technology is everywhere, it makes our everyday lives easier and quicker.
We can now shop, work and bank online, talk to our friends and family online and now you could even manage your own health records this way.

Last week, the Welsh Government set out its five-year vision for the use of digital technology within the NHS.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford, as part of the Digital Health and Care Strategy, wants patients to be given access to their own health records and to be able to see test results and even order prescriptions online.

The strategy also sets out a vision where health and social care professionals have better access to the digital tools in their workplace to help improve care.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford said a drive towards improving technology would help patients take charge of their own health – an important aspect of the Welsh Government’s “Prudent Healthcare” message.

He said: “Digital technology is now an important part of our everyday lives. We use it at work, to shop, to bank, and to keep in touch with family and friends.“Our vision is for more interactive, personalised health and social services, allowing people to access services from wherever and whenever it’s convenient to them. 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.“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.”

The ARCH Programme (A Regional Collaboration for Health) is made up of the partners Hywel Dda University Health Board, ABMU health board and Swansea University.
ARCH partner, Hywel Dda is already leading the way in using technology to overcome issues such as the rurality of the area.

Patients who cannot easily access care at hospital can now take advantage of telemedicine – a form of video conferencing which allows a real-time face to face consultation – wherever they live in the region.

Aberaeron patient Peter Martin, who was given a surgical voice prosthesis after undergoing a total laryngectomy three years ago, has praised the telemedicine progress after using the videoconferencing facility at an Aberaeron Hospital clinic, which allowed him to be treated by top consultants based over 30 miles away at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

Peter said that the scheme has made his life much easier as he does not have to travel to Swansea for specialist support, and can instead be seen by experts just a few miles down the road from where he lives.

He said: “I only have a 15-minute drive and the telemedicine clinic is marvellous. The speech and language therapist can check that everything is okay through the camera and can look right into the stoma.”

Dr Daniel Warm, Hywel Dda’s Service Transformation Programme manager, added that the development of technology within the health board was a priority. He said: “Hywel Dda, along with our ARCH partners AMBU and Swansea University, welcome the Health Minister’s announcement regarding digital development and how it can help us deliver improved services.

“Technology such as telemedicine is all about the patient and it allows them to access the same level of care as those in less rural areas.

“Using tech, and using it well is absolutely key to delivering high quality care wherever you live.
“Hywel Dda, within the ARCH Programme, is currently working on telehealth initiatives which include a pan-European, European Commission-funded trial looking at the implementation of telehealth across healthcare systems.”

For further information:

Emma Bryant

ARCH Communications Manager
Tel: 01639 683672

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