Fewer people are suffering life-changing and often fatal strokes thanks to a new IT tool which helps GPs to easily identify and treat people at risk of Atrial Fibrillation (AF)-related strokes or Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs).
Arden & GEM Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) have built the AF Template, designed by pioneering GP, Dr Yassir Javaid, Cardiovascular Disease Lead for Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The tool, which has been shortlisted for an HSJ award, supports GPs in managing AF patients and simplifies the decision-making process around treatment, helping to provide high quality, consistent care for this high-risk group.
The tool is underpinned by the latest clinical evidence, which shows a stronger rationale for the wider use of anticoagulants in preventing strokes. Promising early results show a 5% reduction in stroke-related hospital admissions, with more people receiving the anticoagulation medication they need. With AF-related strokes often resulting in the most serious consequences for patients, the template could contribute to wide scale cost savings – by helping to save the NHS an estimated £14,000 in the first year for every averted stroke.
Designed to integrate with existing clinical systems, the tool can easily be rolled out to other GP practices, without the need to invest in new software systems.
Dave Marsden, Director for IT Services and Information Systems at Arden & GEM CSU, said: “Increasingly we are being asked to support the development of IT solutions which directly influence frontline services. Left untreated, AF patients are five times more likely to suffer a stroke, so it is really encouraging to see how the combination of GP expertise, CCG enthusiasm and the use of technology can have a direct impact on patient care and health outcomes.”
Tim O'Donovan, Transformation & Service Redesign Manager at Nene CCG, said: “The AF template is making it much easier for GPs to involve patients in shared decision making on the best course of action for patients and we’ve witnessed a direct reduction in stroke admissions. This not only has an impact on reducing costs to the NHS of hospital treatment, but the template can help CCGs to meet targets on improving outcomes for patients and reducing hospital admissions.”
Dr Yassir Javaid, Cardiovascular Disease Lead for Nene CCG and Primary Care Cardiovascular Lead for the East Midlands Strategic Clinical Network, said: “It is my passion to help standardise the treatment of AF patients and deliver evidence-based care and the AF template enabled us to take a system wide approach for improving stroke prevention in AF, to address the huge burden of avoidable cardiovascular events in our CCG.”
Since the initial phase in the Nene CCG area, the tool has received widespread interest and has been rolled out to 13 CCGs across a wide geographic area, from Leeds to Norwich – with potential for future use on a much wider scale.
 SSNAP Health Economics model, 9 March 2016.