Walsall Primary Care Trust and Orion Systems have been chosen to produce a national demonstrator system for the electronic support of care delivery to heart failure patients.

The development follows on from previous successful collaborations on IT to support the coronary heart disease national service framework (NSF) pathways for myocardial infarction and stroke rehabilitation.

The project is part of the national Disease Management Systems Programme run by the NHS Information Authority (NHSIA) which aims to develop a systematic approach to electronic records that support care pathways in all the NSFs.  Similar support tools are being developed for diabetes and breast cancer.

John Thornbury, director of informatics for Walsall PCT said: “We believe that this project not only offers better co-ordinated care to coronary care patients in Walsall but that the results of the project will provide valuable lessons to the NHSIA in specifying best practice for electronic support for the National Service Frameworks.”

Patients thought to be at risk will be enrolled on an electronic “heart failure pathway” which uses the Fusion web-based electronic record already in use across the Walsall community.  The record, which uses Orion’s Soprano workflow engine, automatically tracks the progress of patients and issue automatic care recommendations to primary and acute care.

The project uses disease-specific messaging between primary and acute care, using the HL7 v 3 messaging protocol.  Patients can be enrolled automatically onto the heart failure pathway when they are referred from primary care and discharge messages are sent automatically to primary care when a patient comes out of hospital.

Orion’s president of European operations, Steve Stone, said: “We believe this programme represents a big step forward in the way that we manage chronic disease in the NHS.  Ultimately the programme will assist patients to receive better co-ordinated care that more closely reflects the guidelines of the NSFs.”

Over 650,000 people in the UK suffer from CHD and the estimated cost to the country is £7 billion.