An east London community kidney service has slashed hospital waiting times for people with chronic kidney disease and been awarded £75,000 by the Health Foundation.
Its innovative virtual e-clinic at The Royal London Hospital is enabling the hospital’s kidney experts to view GP patient records and provide instant advice to GPs about the next steps for patients’ care. This has reduced the number of patients that need to see a specialist face-to-face by 31 per cent and saved the NHS over £30,000. Patients who do need hospital care now wait just one week for specialist assessment compared to previous waits of almost three months.
As well as being able to provide specialist advice and easily share test results, automatic triggers alert GP practices to patients most at risk following routine blood test results and GPs can monitor their patients’ wellbeing electronically.
The service model, run by Barts Health NHS Trust and Queen Mary University of London, has been chosen by the Health Foundation as one of 21 health care projects to benefit from its £1.5 million innovation programme ‘Innovating for Improvement’.
The team will now use the funding to translate their research into helping clinicians make the best possible decisions for patients, and develop a support package for GPs to use.
Dr Neil Ashman, consultant renal physician, said: “Twenty years ago a GP would have phoned up a consultant and asked for advice. The e-clinic restores this immediacy and it's beginning to revolutionise our service. When reviewing patients, we have access to all of the investigations done in the community, enabling us to provide comprehensive management advice whilst avoiding unnecessary duplication of tests. And if people do need to be seen at the hospital, we have more availability in clinics to see them in a timely fashion. This funding will now enable us to build on this model and further evaluate our approach.”
Sally Hull, Clinical lead for the Clinical Effectiveness Group, Queen Mary University of London said: “This project provides a fantastic opportunity to test out ways of improving the primary care identification and management of chronic kidney disease. Evaluating the whole community kidney service system, including specialist services, GP management and focused practice facilitation, will provide evidence on the effectiveness of this approach, and its impact on patient care.”
Sarah Henderson, Associate Director from the Health Foundation, said: “We are very excited to be working with such high-calibre teams, who all have great innovative ideas. We are keen to support innovation at the frontline across all sectors of health and care services, and I am pleased that we will be able to support these ambitious teams to develop and test their ideas over the next year.”