The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has endorsed a tool developed by a West Midlands GP to improve treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart condition that affects 1.2m people in the UK.
The tool, being rolled out to 4,166 GP practices using the EMIS Web clinical system, is the first NICE-endorsed AF decision support tool in the UK to work directly from within a patient’s medical record. From the consultation screen, GPs can instantly view bespoke decision support to help assess, monitor and treat the condition, which is the most common heart rhythm disturbance. AF increases the risk of stroke by up to five times, and when combined with high blood pressure, contributes to one in four premature deaths in the UK. It’s estimated optimal treatment of AF could avert 14,000+ strokes over three years, saving the NHS £241 million over that time.
The new tool, developed by EMIS Health, considers variables such as height, weight, age, serum creatinine, medical history and existing medication to help accurately calculate and monitor the correct doses of anticoagulant drugs to treat AF. Anticoagulants need careful monitoring due to potentially serious side effects of under or over treatment such as stroke and bleeding.
The project was led by Dr Boeckx , a GP at the Davenal House surgery in Bromsgrove, who is one of a number of clinicians working at EMIS Health who are dedicated to developing technology that improves healthcare across the UK:. He said: ”What the AF tool gives hard-pressed GPs is relevant information instantly from within the patient’s record. It makes it much easier, safer and quicker to get patients on the right dose of medication. And by better understanding individual patients’ risks, I hope we can help cut the all-too-high number of those suffering stroke and other complications such as heart attack, limb amputation and dementia.
He added: ”While tools exist outside clinical IT systems to treat AF, their uptake has been low because they are too time consuming to be of practical use in the time-pressured GP setting. Integrating decision support within EMIS Web will I believe make relevant guidance instantly accessible and far more impactful.”
Nicola Bent, director of the System Engagement Programme at NICE, said: “We’re pleased to endorse this resource which supports clinicians in primary care to make treatment decisions about patients with atrial fibrillation. This makes it easier for clinicians to implement NICE guidance and ensure these patients receive improved, personalised treatment to meet their individual needs.”
Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, chief medical officer at EMIS Group plc said: We are delighted this tool will be at the fingertips of every EMIS Web user and hope it will become an everyday part of GPs’ management of patients with AF. We’re also grateful to NICE for endorsing it and hope this further encourages its adoption across EMIS Health practices.”