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Study shows telemedical ECG service helps reduce hospital referrals for patients with non-acute chest-pain

Broomwell Healthwatch : 29 February, 2008  (New Product)
A study of a 12-month trial of a cardiac telemedicine service supervised by the Greater Manchester and Cheshire (GMC) Cardiac Network has shown that the Broomwell HealthWatch telemedical ECG service avoids the need for immediate referral of patients with non-acute chest-pain symptoms to hospital care in the majority of cases.
In an analysis of the results of the first 12 months’ use of the telemedical ECG service from Broomwell HealthWatch across four PCTs (48 surgeries), GPs said that 58 percent of patients would have been referred to hospital if the ECG service had not been available to them.

Over the 12-month period, this equates to nearly 2000 referrals to secondary care prevented by using the telemedical cardiac ECG interpretation service.

The first four Trusts have used Broomwell’s award-winning cardiac monitoring service on a total of 3406 patients. The service is now deployed across 10 PCTs in Greater Manchester.

According to Broomwell Healthwatch, translated nationally across some 10,500 surgeries, the use of its ECG service could prevent up to 432,000 referrals per annum.

Karen Gibbons, service improvement manager for Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cardiac and Stroke Network, said: “Preventing such a huge percentage of immediate patient referrals to secondary care helps reduce the burden of cardiac care on our local hospitals.”

“Providing this sort of expert cardiac diagnosis at a primary care level will not only generate cost and resource savings for the NHS, but will ensure patients benefit from timely and preventative care. The service has great potential and has demonstrated that if used on a national level it could generate huge savings for the NHS every year.”

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.”

Following the success of the initial one-year pilot, Broomwell’s cardiac monitoring service has now being rolled out to further PCTs in Greater Manchester and is currently in use across 10 PCTs with some 150 surgeries across the region.

The telemedicine service imports ECG expertise into every surgery (via the telephone) and thus enables GPs to make better-informed diagnoses. A key benefit of the service to patients is that it is carried out locally by their GP, removing the need to travel to hospital for diagnosis and wait up to two weeks for results. Practice clinicians carry out ECG readings and transmit the results over the phone, with expert interpretation reported back within seconds.

In a separate six-month pilot of Broomwell’s service in 2007, Lancashire and South Cumbria SHA (now part of NHS North West), demonstrated a significant saving in referrals to A&E, with an estimated potential savings to the NHS of 46 million per year.

Broomwell believes, that a wider use of the service, to cover coronary heart disease and congestive heart failure patients, could result in savings of around 250m a year.
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