A national integration unlocks patient empowerment in Wales

Lloyd Bettell-HigginsCase Study

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board had a bold vision to promote self efficacy and unlock patient empowerment across Wales.

Armed with a team of passionate changemakers, they looked for a solution that would enable patients to be more involved in their care by securely providing access to their own health records . As a multi-award winning tool designed to more equally balance the patient vs professional dynamic, Patients Know Best was a good fit.

A significant partnership

In 2017, ABMU, in partnership with the Welsh Government who part – funded an early demonstrator pilot through its Efficiency Through Technology Fund, joined forces with the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) to integrate PKB with national data systems.

Following the successful pilot in three departments in Morriston, Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals, a growing number of outpatients in the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend are now able to access their personal health records.

As well as accessing their records anytime, anywhere, this means patients in Wales can choose who they want to share their information with, and work more closely and easily with clinicians to manage their care as a team. Care plans are created digitally with input from patients and clinicians, and videos and other media content that help patients to better understand their condition and manage their care are also available.

The evidence for patient empowerment

Hamish Laing, Chair of the Project Board and former Medical Director at ABMU, said: “There is good evidence that giving patients greater access to their own health information and care plans, as well as other information about their health, helps them to take greater control of their health and offers us better ways to support them in doing so.”

Cardiac outpatient Deborah started using PKB in July 2018 after suffering a heart attack in 2016. Aged just 49, she was one of the first cardiology patients offered PKB when it was launched in August 2018. She said: “I’m able to think about the questions I want to ask ahead of speaking to my nurse. Before I’d go to an appointment and be told about my results and it might not have been afterwards that I’d have thought of something I’d like to have asked. Now I am much better prepared.”

ABMU has rolled out the system across a number of departments at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend. By implementing a scalable approach through mass registration, there has been a sharp increase in registration from a number of clinical specialities including diabetes, audiology, cardiology, HIV, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT). For patients being cared for by these specialities, PKB is enabling better integration and interaction with care pathways and transforming the way care is delivered.

All this has been possible because of the approach Wales has taken towards a national integration. Patients can now can see their test results for the last 10 years along with real-time updates of new results.

The significance of this launch was covered in the national media and also shown primetime on BBC Wales.