Wales is to become the first country to adopt HealthPathways, an online guidance tool that will be adopted by NHS Wales to help front-line clinicians make better-informed decisions about patients and strengthen relationships across primary and secondary care.

The HealthPathways’ approach for the creation, dissemination and maintenance of locally-agreed pathways of care was first implemented by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in 2018, where it has become a cornerstone of their local system. Following its successful implementation, the tool is now expanding across the remaining six health boards in Wales.

Following its deployment at Cardiff and Vale, there were a significant number of health system improvements. The health board saw the greatest reduction in ear, nose and throat outpatient waiting lists in Wales, and around a 66% reduction in referrals for MRIs for knees and spines.

Dr Alastair Roeves, NHS Wales clinical lead for the roll-out, said: “The Cardiff and Vale implementation of HealthPathways gave us confidence in the value of rolling out across the rest of the country.”

He continued: “When scaled nationally, HealthPathways will directly support the five work streams of the Strategic Programme for Planned Care, and will magnify their impact. It also directly supports the Unscheduled Care, Primary Care and Mental Health, and End of Life Care programmes – and thereby will also indirectly support the Planned Care Programme by reducing barriers to flow in these other programmes.”

The pathways are informed by evidence, shared, and improved by a collaborative community of over 60 health systems caring for around 35 million people.

Primary and secondary care clinicians jointly develop local agreements about the management of their patients within the scope of the local health systems. This standardisation of agreed pathways helps primary care clinicians to support care in the community.

It also ensures that health boards can use their capacity more efficiently, reduce the variation in care that patients may experience and save valuable time for both patients and clinicians.

The HealthPathways’ core content, standards, processes, methods, software and software are being developed and delivered by Streamliners. Ian Anderson, CEO, Streamliners, said: “It’s the first time we have rolled out HealthPathways across a whole country, on a green-fields basis, in partnership with a peak body like NHS Wales.

“It means we can get really high levels of collaboration across all the health boards from the get-go, which will speed up the drive to reduce unwarranted variation in clinical practice, and optimise the rapid adoption of new evidence-informed models of care.”

Four of the Welsh health boards have already completely training, while the final three will begin training in the autumn of this year. The Wales HealthPathways team expects that the health boards will launch their live platforms from the end of this year.