The Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board in Wales has integrated its ward-based clinical portal with the national Myrddin patient administration system to give nurses easier access to real-time patient information.

The health board was formed when the Swansea and Bro Morgannwg NHS trusts merged in 2009, with both using separate PAS providers and Bro Morgannwg using the in-house clinical portal.

The Myrddin PAS and clinical portal is now operating across the entire health board, after it worked with integration platform provider NDL Software to develop one data pathway.

The trust’s project development team extended key PAS functions to the portal, including admission, discharge and transfer functionality.

Matthew John, the health board’s head of ICT programmes and project lead, told EHI the trust needed to merge the different IT systems in order to benefit from the merger.

“One of the reasons for the merger was to make life better for patients and have pathways that spanned across services, and when your organisation becomes larger you need to move across a larger organisation.”

John said while the organisation had a number of systems it needed to bring together, a single PAS was the priority as it would provide “a simple way of managing different patient pathways”.

The board also wanted to maintain the portal in use at Bro Morgannwg as it had been helpful to nurses and other staff on the ward. “Whatever we did, we needed to retain that level of live patient management we had on the wards.”

The board went live with the Myrddin PAS across the two halves of the board starting in November 2011, before deploying the portal across the organisation late last year.

John said the board used NDL to integrate the portal with the PAS and allow the data entered in one system to flow into the other.

“The portal was still an in-house development, and with the national PAS we couldn’t just catch the backend of it, so we needed that layer of integration… for a lot of legacy systems, which Myrddin is really, there just aren’t these ways of easily integrating.”

He said the board is “fully behind” plans to develop a national Welsh Clinical Portal to be used across the country, but needed an interim solution.

“We had to make a pragmatic decision to continue with the portal we had in-house to bridge the gap until the Welsh Clinical Portal is fully functioning.”

John said integrating the PAS and portal has given nurses and other staff real-time and easy access to patient information on a ward-by-ward basis.

“The PAS has that functionality but it’s written in a way that’s more useful to heavy users of the system like administrators, it’s never going to work to encourage nurses and clinicians who have got other things to do.

“With the portal, they get a live list of patients, they know which ward they’re in and which consultant they have.”

John said the new integrated system will go live at a new outpatients unit in Swansea when it opens early next year, making it easier to manage wait times and record information electronically with all data transferred directly to the Myrddin PAS.

He said the board is also planning to deploy the Welsh national laboratory information management system next year, and would like to implement electronic prescribing and observations solutions.