Next generation of clinical fertility software

Growing demand for fertility services and increased costs to the NHS were among the drivers for Professor Alison Murdoch from the Newcastle Fertility Centre @ Life, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to look at how technology could transform their services and approach Silverlink Software1 with a technical specification.

“We started with the cost-savings that a single electronic system could deliver in terms of improving efficiency. Being able to call up a patient file quickly to deal with any query saves enormous time and effort in comparison to the workload associated with a manual paper-based system,” says Professor Murdoch.

Having electronic records also has numerous residual benefits for the centre and the patient, but cost-savings alone are a reason to implement the system

“Having electronic records also has numerous residual benefits for the centre and the patient, but cost-savings alone are a reason to implement the system simply to save money in the medical records department and put it into services for patients.”

She also believes that the negative experiences specialist departments such as fertility have had in implementing digital health systems is due to being caught up in a top-down approach when rolling out enterprise resource planning.

“There’s been a lot of money spent and wasted on systems that don’t work for what we do. The starting point for designing the new system we’re working on has been to focus on patient data and then make it useful for clinicians,” says Professor Murdoch.

Beyond the goal of cutting administration costs, she believes that a comprehensive digital system is a powerful mechanism for enabling personalised, patient-centred treatment plans because it enables treating clinicians to harness individual patient data to predict the success of IVF or ICSI – intracytoplasmic sperm injection of eggs – treatments more accurately.

For both clinicians and fertility scientists, knowing who is most likely to get pregnant can focus efforts, streamline costs and ultimately improve success rates.

“The sensitivity of treatment is so narrow that even incremental changes in patient and lab data can mean the difference between a successful IVF treatment or otherwise. By capturing this information we can interrogate the data in standard reports to garner an individual, reliable indication of success, while producing the clinical auditing requirements of regulators,” says Professor Murdoch.

Silverlink Software’s system, called CaptureFertility, offers the fertility field a much-needed benchmark for bringing pertinent data together, giving patients a better indication of their individual chances of conceiving and allowing them to make an educated decision whether or not to pursue treatment.

“As a large tertiary clinical service, we already collect all the necessary HFEA audit2 and clinical data, but having it all in a single IT system means that it can be accessed and analysed much more effectively,” says Professor Murdoch.

By utilising the CaptureFertility system, she believes her team will have better and quicker access to analyse complicated data in addition to capturing the HFEA data automatically.

“In the end, this system will serve the patient because we can use it to more accurately predict who is more likely to get pregnant. There are so many factors that influence the success of IVF, so if we see a change in quality indicators or key performance indicators in real time, we can use that as a basis to go back and interrogate the data, and pinpoint what happened and how we can use that to influence greater success,” Professor Murdoch concludes.

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