Digital enablement through a virtual, regional rapid diagnostic centre

The virtual rapid investigation service for patients presenting with non-specific symptoms suspicious of cancer is a new 2-week wait pathway and is part of the Wessex response to NHS England’s national rapid diagnostic centre programme.

The regional service includes all the primary care GP practices in Wessex as well as acute providers: Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Portsmouth University Hospital NHS Trust, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust.

In order for the service to function virtually and centrally, digital solutions were needed to enable effective working for staff and a seamless experience of care for patients.

Two core aspects of digital set-up were required: the first to support referral and patient management, and the second to facilitate the requesting of tests and receipt of results.

Situation

Prior to this piece of work, tests were generally requested by clinicians working locally at any given Trust.

This piece of work would be the first time a different organisation had had access to request tests at all 7 acute providers in the region to enable a single, centralised pathway. This would enable the Rapid Investigation Service Hub Team, including consultants, nurses and GPs with special interest, to request scans across the region, close to home for patients.

Aspiration

The aspiration was to enable a central, virtual service that would provide a pathway for all of Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, using existing systems in new ways to enable required functionality.

Solution and impact

The aspiration was to set up a new service on e-referral and to have referrals populate into the service PAS and Systm1 (community module).

Systm1 allows digital access through a portal to local ICE systems to request tests locally at each of the 6 Trusts for radiology, pathology and, where available, endoscopy. Results are filed back automatically into the patient record.

Implementation of the above means the service is now operating virtually and centrally, with centralised requesting of tests enabling access to tests close to home for patients.

The project resulted in a successful roll out of the new 2-week wait non-specific symptoms pathway across Wessex.

Functionality

  • The service PAS, Systm1, acts as the central point for digital connectivity
  • Referrals are sent into the service using e-RS and then populated into Systm1 where they are captured
  • Systm1 enables the digital access for requesting and receiving reports from tests which then file in the patient record

Capabilities

  • Can request tests across the 7 acute providers in Wessex
  • Enables central, virtual management of patients while maintaining local access to tests

Scope

The system is to be used by service staff either on-site or working from home.

Key learning points

Even if organisations have the same system it will often have been implemented and configured differently, which can then cause challenges for connectivity.

Different organisations are often on different versions of the same software which can cause configuration issues.

The staff who administrate hospital systems tend to be in scarce supply, are specialist and very oversubscribed for work. Therefore, additional time should be factored in to allow any configuration work to take place.

Find out more

More about the Wessex Cancer Alliance

Key contact

Kelly Spiller, rapid investigation service programme manager, Wessex Cancer Alliance

Kelly.spiller@uhs.nhs.uk