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Swansea Bay NHS

Patient portal expansion gives more people access to their health records

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More people than ever will have access to their health records with a huge expansion of a digital service that Swansea Bay pioneered in Wales.

The Swansea Bay Patient Portal (SBPP) is a secure online record that allows people to view their blood test results and clinical documents, as well as being able to tap into a library of information and resources.

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They can do this via their mobile phone, tablet, or other devices. They can also update their health data and sync with wearable tech like Fitbits.

Blood results and clinical documents can be viewed and shared not only with relatives but clinicians and professionals from any device that has access to the internet.

Powered by Patient Knows Best, the portal is now live in 25 services across the health board. As of 21st November, it has been made available to 17,766 patients and 701 staff.

However, in the months ahead, the number of services will be increased to 34 and every one of their patients will be able to access their record at any time. And that’s not the only big change.

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Previously, eligible patients had to be asked if they wanted an online record before one could be created.

Now, the records will be automatically generated for patients receiving ongoing care. They do not have to take advantage of this as it is not compulsory. But the record is there any time they choose to claim it.

Patient, Nick Bodycombe (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

One active user of the portal is Nick Bodycombe, who is also patient representative on the SBPP programme board.

Nick, from Swansea, was initially an orthopaedics and neurosurgery patient and more recently has been under the care of Ear, Nose and Throat.

One of the features he found important was the fact that he had access to correspondence from the clinical staff to his GP.

“I think it’s brilliant,” Nick said. “At the end of the day, it’s the patient’s right to know what is going on. This is a marvellous way to bring individuals closer to their health care.

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“It’s a great system and I am delighted they are rolling it out.”

The expansion will be carried out in a series of phases between now and the end of next March. The first five services involved are rheumatology, dermatology, diabetes, endocrinology and neurology.

Details of which other services are being included will be publicised as each phase is introduced.

Swansea Bay Digital Services Senior Project Manager Matthew Arnold said: “Before, we had to ask a patient whether they wanted a record and that brought a lot of constraints.

“But now we can create records in advance for our patients to claim at their own leisure, if they want to.

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“It will not be available to those awaiting a first appointment after being referred by their GP, as they may not need another after that.

“However, anyone receiving ongoing care will be able to claim their record once the automated process extends to that particular service.”

Mr Arnold explained that, with more than 100,000 patient records being created, it would not be possible to go live in all services simultaneously.

Instead it would be carried out in five phases, with each phase involving the creation of some 20,000 plus records.

Information on how to access the record once it has been created is available on the Patient Portal section of the health board website.

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Mr Arnold said the aim was to support patient health and well-being by providing them with an online record that they themselves controlled.

“They can have access to their blood results and clinical letters,” he added. “They can upload their symptoms, keep a journal, and generally be supported in managing their own care.”

There are benefits for clinicians, too, as in some cases it frees up time which they can then devote to other patients.

This was one of the main reasons why urology patient Mark Gibbs decided to sign up to the Swansea Bay Patient Portal.

“I was having face-to-face meetings with the consultant annually, following blood tests,” said Mark, from Swansea.

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“He said me being able to use the Patient Portal would negate the need for these meetings. My feeling was, if it freed up appointments for people who did need them, it would be worth it for that alone.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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