Cardiac patients in East Sussex are avoiding hospital visits and having heart monitors fitted at home or in community clinics, thanks to a tailored clinical system created for specialist GPs to enable remote consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tailored version of the EMIS Web system, accessed via laptops, has enabled a specialist team of GPs, cardiac physiologists and cardiographers to safely assess and manage 3,000 patients a year in the community rather than sending them to hospital. Through data-sharing agreements with individual practices, GPs with a special interest in cardiology (GPwSIs) can view the patients’ full medical record held by their own GP, enabling more informed care.
It means they can assess patients to be fitted with heart monitors at home or in a community clinic rather than going to hospital – cutting the waiting time from 18 weeks for a first out-patients appointment to six weeks for fitting by a community specialist team. The specialist team can also do echocardiograms. The aim is to keep cardiac patients out of hospital by offering timely, high quality care close to where they live.
GPwSIs can securely access the specially-developed EMIS system from wherever they are based, meaning that the service can solve local recruitment difficulties by employing doctors living anywhere in the UK with a reliable internet connection.
The system was created within a few weeks for the specialist team, with customised training and support to ensure it met all of their needs.
Dr Matt Jackson, a GPwSI at the Seaford Medical Practice in Hailsham and director of Integrated Cardiology Solutions said: “The ability for our doctors to view a referred patient’s full care record via EMIS is the most important benefit.
“We get limited information from a remote consultation compared to seeing a patient face-to-face. We can’t examine them or observe their current state of health, so we rely on what they tell us, but this is significantly less over the phone or video than they would give us face-to-face. Being able to see their complete care record and medical history helps us to fill in the blanks and ask the right questions to make a robust diagnosis.”
The data-sharing agreement with 20 referring GP practices has also enabled the cardiac service to:
• reduce delays to the patient journey through care, by giving specialists real time information at their fingertips
• prevent patients from undergoing repeat investigations
• reduce admin for both referring practices and the community cardiology service.
Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, chief medical officer at EMIS Group said: “Throughout the pandemic the NHS has found innovative ways of delivering patient care, and we are proud that EMIS technology has supported them during this very challenging period. The Community Cardiology Service is a brilliant example of how patients with complex needs can be cared for in their own homes by specialist GPs using joined-up technology.”