New app help­ing put pa­tients in con­trol of their health­care

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views - MARK SMITH mark.smith@waleson­line.co.uk

PA­TIENTS can now gain ac­cess to their own NHS records at the touch of their phone thanks to a pi­o­neer­ing new web­site and app.

The dig­i­tal ser­vice, called Pa­tients Know Best (PKB), al­lows peo­ple to read their test re­sults, resched­ule ap­point­ments, man­age care plans and email their doctor or nurse di­rectly for ad­vice.

Those less ca­pa­ble with tech­nol­ogy can de­cide to share their health in­for­ma­tion with a rel­a­tive or carer, and “vir­tual clin­ics” can also be ar­ranged via a video link when pa­tients don’t need to at­tend a hospi­tal ap­point­ment.

Fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful pilot, pa­tients cur­rently at­tend­ing ap­point­ments for car­diac prob­lems, Parkin­son’s disease and chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary disease (COPD) at the Princess of Wales Hospi­tal in Brid­gend will be given ac­cess to Pa­tients Know Best.

If an ex­ten­sive eval­u­a­tion finds the tech­nol­ogy suc­cess­ful, the ser­vice could be rolled out across the Welsh NHS.

Hamish Laing, chair­man of the project board and for­mer med­i­cal di­rec­tor for Abertawe Bro Mor­gan­nwg Univer­sity Health Board, said Pa­tients Know Best has the po­ten­tial to re­duce waste in the Welsh NHS, cut wait­ing times and save money.

He said: “Pa­tients Know Best is a re­ally pow­er­ful tool for pa­tients, to em­power them to take con­trol of their own con­di­tions and share their in­for­ma­tion with who they want to.

“But it also al­lows the NHS to look after peo­ple dif­fer­ently, so in­stead of see­ing them reg­u­larly in a clinic when they’re per­haps well, we can use the plat­form to let pa­tients tell us when they need to be seen.

“That al­lows them to get on with their lives with­out hav­ing to take a day off work un­nec­es­sar­ily.

“At the mo­ment we have a lot of peo­ple com­ing to out­pa­tients that re­ally don’t need to be seen. We are un­der a lot of pres­sure in hos­pi­tals and this plat­form will al­low us to cre­ate space in clin­ics.”

Abertawe Bro Mor­gan­nwg Univer­sity Health Board has been work­ing in part­ner­ship with the Welsh Gov­ern­ment, which part-funded an early pilot of the ser­vice at Mor­ris­ton, Sin­gle­ton and Neath Port Tal­bot hos­pi­tals.

It is the first tech­nol­ogy to be given ac­cess be­hind the se­cure NHS net­work, which is en­crypted to stop peo­ple hack­ing into the sys­tem and steal­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

Mum-of-three Deborah Isi­doro, from Pen­coed, suf­fered a heart at­tack in 2016 aged just 49 and was one of the first car­di­ol­ogy pa­tients of­fered Pa­tients Know Best.

“I like the way that I am now able to see my re­sults on­line, so I’m bet­ter pre­pared ahead of an ap­point­ment,” said Deborah, who has used Pa­tients Know Best for the past month.

“I’m able to think about the ques­tions I want to ask ahead of speak­ing to my nurse.

“It gives me more un­der­stand­ing of what’s go­ing on – it is em­pow­er­ing in a way. Be­fore, I’d go into an ap­point­ment and be told about my re­sults and it might not have been un­til af­ter­wards that I’d have thought of some­thing I’d like to have asked. Now I am much bet­ter pre- pared.”

When pa­tients are given ac­cess to the NHS por­tal, it will al­low them to see some as­pects of their med­i­cal records – such as blood tests – dat­ing back five years or more.

Pa­tients Know Best founder and CEO, Dr Mo­ham­mad Al-Ubay­dli, said the idea came about as a re­sult of a ge­netic im­mune de­fi­ciency he was di­ag­nosed with as a child.

He said due to the rar­ity of his con­di­tion, which stopped him from be­ing able to have vac­ci­na­tions as a child, his con­ti­nu­ity of care was poor when mov­ing be­tween spe­cial­ist and com­mu­nity hos­pi­tals.

Ten years after he ini­tially de­vel­oped the idea, Pa­tients Know Best is now be­ing used in 30 dif­fer­ent hos­pi­tals in Eng­land and has 19 dif­fer­ent lan­guages.

“I my­self have a longterm ill­ness and need help from lots of peo­ple, all of whom care about and con­trib­ute to my health,” he said.

“But manag­ing com­plex care is hard. I have to sched­ule ap­point­ments with a num­ber of clin­i­cians, man­age my med­i­ca­tions and co-or­di­nate with loved ones who par­tic­i­pate in my care.

“Ten mil­lion peo­ple in the UK alone have longterm ill­nesses that need this kind of care, in­clud­ing di­a­betes, asthma and heart disease.

“Over the years, I no­ticed that my clin­i­cal team was relying on me to know im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion. This was not be­cause I trained as a doctor my­self, but be­cause I was the only one who turned up to all the ap­point­ments!

“This is how pa­tients know best.

“And this is why we built this web­site – to give each pa­tient bet­ter tools to man­age their health.”

Pa­tients Know Best will be of­fered through­out the health board in di­a­betes, urol­ogy, ear, nose and throat, and gas­troen­terol­ogy from this au­tumn.

Some pa­tients us­ing Princess of Wales Hospi­tal, Brid­gend, are be­ing given ac­cess to the Pa­tients Know Best app

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