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NHS Trust manages the art of cancer integration

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A digital platform that helps professionals electronically share referral and treatment data between organisations is having a major impact on cancer care. IT expert Ruth McCarthy of Somerset Cancer Register tells Health Tech World that sharing information on a register helps patients get the possible care and understand their treatment.

Somerset Cancer Register has become a household name when it comes to the delivery of cancer data capture. This established software business was originally born from the need to capture cancer wait times and now delivers a suite of products that provides a single cancer healthcare record.

The main system, SCR, captures referral through to treatment data and last year the team added a remote monitoring system (RMS) to its portfolio. RMS provides the right tools for Clinical Nurse Specialists to personalise the patient’s follow up plan and enable care to be delivered in the place of the patient’s choice, avoiding unnecessary outpatient appointments.

SCR covers 13 tumour sites and ensures that as part of meeting the national reporting needs it has worked closely with the users of its products to build what is now an electronic cancer patient record.

The data that is captured is well used to support national audit reporting needs, for example, Cancer Wait Times, Cancer Outcome Dataset, tumour specific audits and surgeon level reporting. Initially much of the data was duplicated so it was important for the team to address this and strive towards data only being entered once.

Since 2014 the team has focused on building a suite of interfaces that allows data to populate the SCR and streamline the data capture process. eReferral has been well adopted and eImport, which sources data from mainstream clinical systems, like Pathology, Radiology and Oscopy, is gaining huge momentum as the one click approach to importing results and ease of use is being recognised.

One of SCRs greatest achievements has been the ability to electronically send referral and treatment data between organisations and this is where we truly see interoperability benefiting everyone involved in the patient’s pathway. It is not unusual for patients to receive treatment across multiple organisations and the ease of how this data can now be communicated is fantastic. This interface is not one sided with its benefits; all parties involved receive prompt communication, more complete data and typically of higher quality. This is a significant win for healthcare professionals and for speeding up the process for patient treatment.

The next steps for SCR, apart from now having to modernise some interfaces with the newer technologies, is to move forwards with sharing data from SCR and RMS with the patient. Last year it partnered with Patients Know Best to deliver cancer data through PKBs platform. This is a very exciting next step for the team as it will open the door for patients to interact digitally with healthcare professionals and enable them to participate more in their own care.

The team recognised that there are many Apps but felt that ‘cancer’ data should form part of a more holistic patient centred record, and that’s why it did not go down the path of developing its own cancer patient portal. The team is looking forward to going live with this in the Spring.

Ruth is speaking about The Art of Cancer Integration at the Digital Health Rewired festival on Monday 15 March.

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