Thomas, K. The Guardian. Published online: 9 August 2016
New software enables GPs to confer with local hospital consultants to get advice on whether to refer a patient or not
Charlotte Levitt, a GP based in south London, faced a dilemma. One of her patients was taking a drug that had just come onto the market and his kidney function had started deteriorating. Should she refer the patient to a consultant, or take him off the drug?
Whereas many GPs might automatically make a referral, Levitt, referral management lead at Wandsworth clinical commissioning group (CCG), was able to resolve the question quickly. She logged on to Kinesis, web-based software from Cloud2 that enables GPs to confer with local hospital consultants. In this case, the consultant advised further blood tests: if they were abnormal, the patient should be referred. If not, the drug was likely to be the problem.
Last year, there were 13.6m GP referrals in England, a 5% rise on the previous year, representing an increasing cost burden on CCGs. A 2009 report from the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement found that up to 65% of patients referred to outpatient specialty clinics were discharged with “no significant pathology detected”, meaning many were unnecessary.
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