The Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cardiac (GMC) Network has extended its pilot of a telemedicine ECG service from Broomwell HealthWatch, to ten more PCTs, covering an additional 150 surgeries.
The GMC Network is responsible for the cardiac care of 3.2m people in the region. The network has already piloted the ECG telemedicine system in 48 surgeries in the region.
GMC’s service improvement manager, Karen Gibbons, told E-Health Insider Primary Care: “The service has delivered clear cost savings and freed up acute and emergency healthcare resources. By providing cardiac monitoring, diagnosis and care at GP level, we’ve succeeded in dramatically reducing the number of outpatient secondary care referrals. Patients get early diagnosis and care ensuring NHS resources are used most effectively.
According to Broomwell, initial results from the PCTs using the system have shown that the service avoids immediate referral of patients with non-acute chest-pain symptoms to hospital care, in nearly 60% of cases.
Gibbons said: “The PCTs who were in the first phase of the pilot have all expressed interest in taking the project up, with two set to roll out the system funded by themselves later this month. Evaluation forms from the second phase have so far identified at least 58% of patients would have been referred to hospital if the ECG had not been available to them.”
The telemedicine system allows 12-lead ECGs to be carried out in the GP practice by a doctor or nurse and for the results transmitted to a Broomwell’s cardiac centre, providing GPs with access to expert cardiology advice.
Broomwell’s hand-held 12-lead ECG machine is used by a nurse, clinician or paramedic in the same way as a conventional machine. When the ECG is complete, the data is transmitted as a sound signal by landline telephone to the monitoring centre, where it is displayed on screen for interpretation by experienced clinical staff.
Based on the ECG trace, staff can give an immediate verbal interpretation by phone so that action can be taken quickly, if needed. A full written ECG report is also sent to the GP surgery by email or fax for inclusion in the patient record. Each ECG evaluation and report costs £20.
The first pilot with 48 surgeries saw 3,406 patients checked using the Broomwell equipment and the SHA are impressed by the service, opening it up for use over the Christmas period at the 150 phase two surgeries.
Joe Rafferty, NHS North West director of Commissioning, said: “The deployment of Broomwell’s service across Greater Manchester has proven to be extremely successful. Using telemedicine to bring essential health services closer to patients in a primary care setting is beneficial to both patients and the NHS, and I think a service such as this has the potential to make a great deal of difference to health services across the UK.”
Joshua Rowe, CEO of Broomwell HealthWatch told EHIPC the system had the capability to meet government incentives to treat patients closer to home and move heart check-ups to the GP surgery.
“Having an immediate expert ECG evaluation and guidance can make a huge difference. It can pick up signs of a serious cardiac condition in patients not displaying symptoms, and conversely it can also show that even in symptomatic patients there may be no cause for concern. Having an ECG expertly allied to the clinical evaluation is an immensely useful tool and the proof is in the numbers.
Rowe said that if used nationally across all 10,500 GP surgeries in England the use of Broomwell’s ECG service could prevent up to 432,000 referrals per year.