Patient portal in Wirral University Teaching Hospital
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is an acute secondary healthcare provider serving a population of approximately 350,000 Wirral residents. With 900 beds, it is principally made up of 2 hospital sites: Clatterbridge and Arrowe Park.
Both sites deal with a mixture of outpatients, day case and elective admissions, with Arrowe Park also serving as the emergency healthcare service provider.
The Trust had received increasing requests from both patients and clinicians for technology to support sharing of information, reduce the need for paper communications, and help reduce the pressures on outpatient appointments.
In addition, the Cancer Alliance initiatives for patients living beyond cancer meant that the urology, breast and colorectal cancer specialities needed a process for monitoring patients without them having to return to clinic. This initiative was addressed in the NHSX/NHS England and NHS Improvement’s 2021 Remote Monitoring System Implementation Guide.
To provide a new model of outpatient services for cancer which gives greater patient choice and increased opportunity for self-management under the guidance of specialist clinicians, while reducing the number of hospital visits.
Solution and impact
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has enrolled patients on its patient portal to help them manage their own conditions and reduce outpatient appointments. Working with clinicians and patient engagement groups across the area, it developed a new model for follow-up care. This involved training the patients in using the portal and providing a safety net of clinical monitoring and support.
The portal was introduced in cancer services following initial trialling in maternity and diabetes services. Roll-out targeted areas with the most identified benefits in terms of:
- cost savings: the project is expected to reduce long-term follow-up outpatient attendances by up to 70% and deliver £40,000 savings per year in urology and colorectal specialties
- improved patient experience, for example, a reduction in unnecessary appointments
- increased patient confidence in their care by being able to view their records and interact directly with the care messaging team
- improved capacity in clinics leading to an improved referral to treatment (RTT) position
The Trust’s electronic patient record (EPR) system is hosted by Cerner Millennium and, to ensure that the portal was fully integrated with the EPR, the patient portal solution is provided by Cerner HealtheLife which operates with the Millennium system. The portal is therefore not a standalone system and requires no duplicate data entry.
The use of the integrated Cerner portal allows additional internal development which would not have been easily available if an external product was bought. It also allowed ‘future proofing’ for future developments, for example, the use of questionnaires and messaging through the portal.
The patient portal allows patients to:
- access their medical record, such as results, reports, referral and discharge letters
- view appointments
- receive advice and guidance with secure messaging functionality
The portal also enables remote surveillance capability for cancer patients and there are plans to allow patients to be able to add information into their electronic health record, improving data quality and patient engagement.
To enrol patients on a patient portal to help them to manage their own conditions, reduce the need for outpatient appointments and, specifically for cancer patients, enable remote surveillance.
“From when I used to attend for my follow-up PSA blood test to when I was seen in clinic was an anxious time. With the new process I have none of the stress of coming to clinic. Whilst I love seeing Gill and her team, I understand their time is better off spent seeing people at the beginning of their journey and the appointment I was taking up can be given to someone else. The portal was easy to register on and easy to use. I can contact the team if I have any issues. I cannot stress enough how much this reduced my anxiety.”
Trevor Sinclair, urology cancer patient (taken from the Global Digital Exemplar Blueprint on the NHSFutures platform)
Find out more
Find out more about the NHS Cancer Programme resources to support personalised stratified follow up (PSFU) with digital remote monitoring systems (RMS) from the Cancer Alliances Workspace on the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform (access via your Cancer Alliance - contact details here).
Katherine Hanlon, project manager, informatics, Wirral University Teaching Hospital
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