UK-First Technology aims to speed up cancer referrals

A UK first technology solution that is designed to speed up cancer patient referrals between NHS organisations has been piloted in hospital Trusts in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.

Inter-Trust messaging (ITM) has been developed thanks to the Working Together Partnership and technology data management company CIMS using their InfoFlex Cancer Management system. The partnership of Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster & Bassetlaw, Mid Yorks, Chesterfield and Sheffield hospitals, identified that there were significant opportunities to improve the system for referring a cancer patient from a district hospital to a specialist treatment centre.

Previously, when a patient was identified as potentially needing treatment at a specialist hospital the referring trust would input all of the patient’s data into their standalone InfoFlex system and then would send a secure email to the receiving trust. The receiving trust would then have to spend time re-entering all of the data into their own infoFlex system. Often the patient data that needed to be re-entered included complex numerical systems which has the potential to be mistakenly inputted.

The Working Together partnership designed the concept, and a specialist developer joined the partnership to develop the technology to allow the Inter-Trust messaging capability and to work with the CIMS development team.  The result means that once the patient data has been inputted into the system at the referring Trust, it can automatically be added to the cancer trackers worklist for the receiving trust’s Multi-disciplinary Teams to consider the best course of treatment for the patient.

In October, the Inter-Trust system was piloted for referrals of patients requiring lung and thoracic cancer treatment.  The pilot was successful, and a second pilot will take place in January across more cancer specialties. The aim is then for a roll-out to all the remaining cancer tumour groups including specialist services early February.