"We wanted to create a system that hospital clinicians could use to share information with patients and their GPs quickly and efficiently. The template we have created is speeding up ways of working and enhancing communication. The new referral provides patients with information that they can take home immediately. It helps them to understand their medical condition and empowers them to manage their own health.”
Dr John Robson, Queen Mary University of London’s Blizard Institute

A new digital system in use in Newham, east London, is enabling cardiologists to share information about their patients with GPs when they leave the hospital. This new and innovative digital system has been developed by academics from the Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust, facilitated by UCLPartners in collaboration with NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group.

UCLPartners has been key to bringing these healthcare and academic institutions together to find an evidence-based solution to a healthcare communication issue.

The impact is improved communication between patients and healthcare professionals; cardiologists have saved time during consultations with patients; and patients have been able to instantly take home key information relating to their condition.

Challenge / problem identified

In 2013, NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) identified the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) as a health priority for the area. In the borough over 50% of adults are overweight or obese, 40% are inactive and 10% have high blood pressure; all contributing to a high rate of CVD amongst the Newham population.

Until recently, outdated practices have meant that information from cardiologists about a patient’s diagnosis, investigations and treatment have been communicated back to the patient’s GP using a dictated letter. These letters vary in content and can take days to be delivered. This impacts on both the GP and the patient as it can delay making important changes to the way a patient’s condition is managed.

Actions taken

In order to improve the treatment and management of those with cardiovascular disease, UCLPartners began working with Newham CCG, forming the Newham Partnership Programme. Drawing on expertise from partner organisations Barts Health NHS Trust and Queen Mary University of London, the Newham Partnership Programme supported world class research to find innovative ways to improve the communication of information for CVD patients.

To address the communication issue, the team developed a digital template that enables cardiologists to record information about a patient’s diagnosis and treatment in real time. The new template links with the hospital electronic health record. Utilising the template means information can be made immediately available to the patient and transferred electronically to their GP without delay.

The new digital referral template was piloted in Newham University Hospital with 360 patients and 210 GPs.

Impacts / outcomes

During the pilot of this new and innovative communication system, the digital referral was used in up to 77% of patient appointments.Quicker and efficient referrals for Cardiovascular disease

A survey of patients that benefitted from the use of the system found that:

  • 92% of patients felt the speed in which information was made available to them was beneficial
  • 98% of patients found the report easy to follow.

90% of GPs that have used the system reported that the speed that this information was communicated to them was extremely important. Delay in the communication of information can potentially impact on how a patient’s condition is managed.

Plans for the future

This electronic template has the potential to transform communication pathways between secondary and primary health professionals by being applied across a variety of different outpatient settings.

Which national clinical or policy priorities does this example address?

This innovation supports NHS Digital’s ambition of a paperless NHS. It is also addressing the care and quality agenda by speeding up and streamlining the communication of information to patients and between health professionals.

Where did the innovation originate from?
  • Higher Education Institution
Start and end dates
  • 2013 – 2017
Contact for help and advice

Project contact for further information:
Mariana Wieske, Project Director, UCLPartners
E: Mariana.wieske@uclpartners.com

Media contact for further information:
Frances Sheridan, Communications and Engagement Manager, UCLPartners
E: Frances.sheridan@uclpartners.com