As the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in changes to the provision of NHS services, an online platform offering home tests was introduced throughout Wales – enabling service users to access STI testing at home.
The scheme, titled Test and Post and accessed via the Frisky Wales website, is a collaborative Welsh government funded project being delivered by Public Health Wales, the sexual health services of the health boards and Signum Health. The technology behind the ordering platform was created by Signum Health, a Caerphilly-based MedTech company which has developed a digital health shop, where health care professionals can create their own virtual health service by accessing and choosing blocks of the various the Signum Health platforms, from diagnostics to social prescribing, to suit their patients’ needs.
The STI platform was created specifically for Public Health Wales and was piloted before the Covid-19 outbreak, but it has now been rolled out to all health boards in Wales.
Patients fill out a questionnaire online with their details and concerns and can then choose to receive a home test kit which they can use in the privacy of their own home without having to visit a clinic. It offers tests for chlamydia and gonorrhoea and for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B and C. The questionnaire ensures that the patient is safeguarded and is being offered the correct service for them.
In the six weeks since its introduction at the end of May, the platform received 5,139 home kit order requests with service users being provided with the treatment and care they needed.
Victoria Norman, CEO and founder of Signum Health, said of the success of the Test and Post programme: “The pilot STI platform was going well before the Covid outbreak, but because clinics around Wales had to close down, the speed of adoption by all Welsh health boards increased.
“We are thrilled that the service is being so well used and is helping those who fear they may have an STI get the help and treatment they need, despite the closure of walk in clinics.”
Vicky added: “I think this shows the power that digital health services could have to modernise the NHS in Wales and the UK. Digital services can step in when clinics and traditional testing and treatment methods have to close. We hope to see similar platforms being adopted in Wales and beyond in the future, as it has truly helped the continuation of some vital services during the pandemic.”
Zoe Couzens, Public Health Wales Programme lead for sexual health, said of the service: “This digital solution has really helped provide continuity of service during the Covid pandemic. It has been great to see so many patients logging on and using the test and post service and to have feedback so that we can continue to improve the service
“’It has also been a pleasure working with the Signum Health team as they have a can-do attitude and work to promptly find solutions in what has been and continues to be an evolving service.”