Do virtual renal clinics improve access to kidney care? A preliminary impact evaluation of a virtual clinic in east London.

Journal article


Thomas, Nicola and Hull, Sally (2020). Do virtual renal clinics improve access to kidney care? A preliminary impact evaluation of a virtual clinic in east London. BMC Nephrology. 21 (10).
AuthorsThomas, Nicola and Hull, Sally
Abstract

BACKGROUND
Early identification of people with CKD in primary care, particularly those with risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension, enables proactive management and referral to specialist services for progressive disease.
The 2019 NHS Long Term Plan endorses the development of digitally-enabled services to replace the ‘unsustainable’ growth of the traditional out-patient model of care.
Shared views of the complete health data available in the primary care electronic health record (EHR) can bridge the divide between primary and secondary care, and offers a practical solution to widen timely access to specialist advice.
METHODS
We describe an innovative community kidney service based in the renal department at Barts Health NHS Trust and four local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in east London. An impact evaluation of the changes in service delivery used quantitative data from the virtual CKD clinic and from the primary care electronic health records (EHR) of 166 participating practices. Survey and interview data from health professionals were used to explore changes to working practices.
RESULTS
Prior to the start of the service the general nephrology referral rate was 0.8/1,000 GP registered population, this rose to 2.5/1,000 registered patients by the second year of the service. The majority (>80%) did not require a traditional outpatient appointment, but could be managed with written advice for the referring clinician. The wait for specialist advice fell from 64 to 6 days. General practitioners (GPs) had positive views of the service, valuing the rapid response to clinical questions and improved access for patients unable to travel to clinic. They also reported improved confidence in managing CKD, and high levels of patient satisfaction. Nephrologists valued seeing the entire primary care record but reported concerns about the volume of referrals and changes to working practices.
CONCLUSIONS
‘Virtual’ specialist services using shared access to the complete primary care EHR are feasible and can expand capacity to deliver timely advice. To use both specialist and generalist expertise efficiently these services require support from community interventions which engage primary care clinicians in a data driven programme of service improvement.

KeywordsCKD; Primary care; Virtual clinic
Year2020
JournalBMC Nephrology
Journal citation21 (10)
PublisherBMC
ISSN1471-2369
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1186/s12882-020-1682-6
Publication dates
Print10 Jan 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted03 Jan 2020
Deposited20 Jan 2020
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/88w97

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