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Life saving tech built by Welsh doctor helps NHS tackle wait times

A cutting-edge tech platform built by Anglesey-born surgeon Dr Owain Rhys Hughes has been adopted by several major NHS organisations as part of efforts to shorten waiting lists and improve collaboration between medics.

Welsh NHS figures reveal that in February of this year, almost 690,000 patients were waiting to start treatment, a number that has risen every month since the start of the pandemic.


However, Dr Hughes’ digital technology, Cinapsis SmartReferrals, is designed to tackle these lengthening waiting lists and reduce the growing pressure on NHS services. The desktop and smartphone-accessible platform supports primary care staff (including GPs, optometrists and paramedics) to work in collaboration with their secondary care colleagues: streamlining workflows, saving time and improving patient experiences.

Using the Cinapsis platform, clinicians can request specialist advice, and securely share clinical images and expert knowledge in a matter of seconds. Colleagues can then work together to decide on the best course of treatment for an individual patient. The goal is that no-one is unnecessarily put on a specialist clinic waiting list or sent to A&E when a more appropriate solution exists. Since launching, Cinapsis has freed up appointments and clinicians’ time for patients who really need them. It’s also reducing stress and improving the wellbeing of the clinicians themselves.

Dr Hughes, who studied medicine at Cardiff University before working as a surgeon in the UK and US, was motivated to build this solution after noticing the negative impact that the NHS’s outdated referrals system was having on patient care.

Dr Owain Rhys Hughes, founder and CEO of Cinapsis, said:

“As a doctor, I know just how important a role communication and collaboration plays in excellent NHS care. As a surgeon, I became frustrated with the broken, siloed communication channels I was forced to work with. So, I listened to what my colleagues really needed, and I built a secure, tested solution to transform referrals and tackle the pain-points getting in the way of care delivery. 

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see the technology that my team and I worked so hard to build getting such a warm reception from clinicians. It’s really making a difference to their day-to-day workloads, handing them back time so they can perform more of the patient-facing work that really makes a difference.

“My mission is to get Cinapsis into the hands of NHS workers right across Wales, so that everyone can gain access to timely, quality care, and clinicians can be empowered to make accurate referral decisions first time around”

Cinapsis is being used by several major NHS Trusts, ICSs and CCGs, including Cheshire & Merseyside ICS, Liverpool University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. In Norfolk and Waveney, Cinapsis is helping cut wait times for specialist advice from 50 weeks to just 48 hours, and in Cheshire and Merseyside the tech is responsible for an estimated £1m per year in savings for the NHS.