The technology, developed by Broomwell, enables fast, accurate diagnosis of heart problems by telephone. It allows patients to receive a full 12-lead ECG test at their local GP surgery within minutes, avoiding the need to travel to hospital or diagnostic centres. By providing quick, convenient care closer to home, the service relieves the pressure on secondary care resources and prevents patients having to wait up to 21 days for appointments and results.
The round-the-clock 365-day service is successfully being used in GP surgeries, walk-in centres and minor injuries units (MIU) across almost a third of all PCTs in England, as well as by virtually every PCT in Greater Manchester. The service is now generating some 1,300 calls per week for interpretation by Broomwell's team of expert cardiac clinicians.
A major two-year pilot carried out by the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cardiac and Stroke Network (GMCCSN) revealed that Broomwell’s ECG service could prevent approximately 63% of referrals to secondary care if rolled out across the Network. The pilot, which started in 2007, enabled over 2,000 people to avoid a trip to hospital, saving the NHS thousands in care costs and eliminating patient delays, stress and anxiety through quicker, more convenient diagnosis.
Karen Gibbons, Service Improvement Manager at the GMCCSN said: "Broomwell's ECG service has played a key role in transforming the way we deliver cardiac care to patients across the Network, significantly reducing the number of referrals to secondary care and freeing up NHS resources. By providing cardiac monitoring, diagnosis and care at GP level, patients receive a more effective and timely service, which in turn considerably enhances their experience and ensures GPs have the expertise on hand to make better-informed diagnoses."
Independent data from Broomwell’s ECG interpretations has shown that 90% of symptomatic patients were managed by their local GP after they used the service and did not need to be referred. A significant number of those patients would have been referred to secondary care or diagnostic centres without the ECG service in place.
Another six-month pilot of cardiac telemedicine services by the Lancashire and South Cumbria Cardiac Network estimated that by simply avoiding unnecessary referrals to A&E and Admissions, the service could generate national annual savings of £46m.
Joshua Rowe, CEO of Broomwell HealthWatch, said: "Completing over 130,000 successful ECG telemedical calls and doing some 1,300 ECGs per week translates into major cost savings for the NHS. It also eliminates the inconvenience, long journeys and lost working days - not to mention the stress and anxiety - involved in waiting for appointments and results. By effectively bringing ECG expertise and services into every surgery, by way of telephone or email, GPs are able to significantly reduce referrals and cut out inconvenience, unnecessary travel and waiting times. This service delivers a far more efficient level of care to cardiac patients and one which is closer to home, meaning referrals are simply not necessary.
"Since many suspected cardiac-related cases turn out to be non-emergency, being able to quickly establish the severity of the condition also enables GPs to reduce avoidable hospital admissions, and ensure patients receive the right care at the right time."
Broomwell's telemedical services provide PCTs and GPs with 24-hour expert diagnostic support for 12-lead ECGs and Arrhythmia Monitoring from a team of expert cardiac clinicians, enabling patients to receive quick convenient care, closer to home. The service is cardiologist-led, has extremely high standards of clinical governance and is a proven cost-effective measure, delivering real benefits to trusts and patients where implemented. It has dramatically cut the number of people having to go to hospital or diagnostic centres for cardiac-related symptoms, and would save the NHS over £100 million per annum if it was rolled out across the country.
Practice nurses carry out ECG recordings at the GP surgery and transmit the results over the phone, where a team of expert cardiac clinicians interpret the ECG trace, give an immediate verbal diagnosis, and subsequently send a written report back to the GP within minutes. The reports are integrated into all standard surgery filing systems.
Broomwell also provides Arrhythmia Monitoring services, including a rapid interpretation service for 24-hour tapes and 8-day loop monitors, as well as a Telemedical Monitoring service for congestive heart failure (CHF), congestive heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The company recently introduced its Arrhythmia Watch, which allows patients to capture and record episodes of arrhythmia as they occur.
About Broomwell Healthwatch
Broomwell Healthwatch was established in 2004 to provide TeleMedical Monitoring services. By the end of 2008, the Broomwell Healthwatch monitoring centre had successfully interpreted over 30,000 ECGs, and it now serves a large number of GP practices, medical centres and hospitals in various parts of the country, allowing all of them to benefit from immediate interpretation of ECGs by expert clinicians.