Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Published findings from the NHS Health Check Leadership Forum


On 12th June, the first NHS Health Check Leadership Forum took place during the 2013 Commissioning Show. Initial findings from the National Evaluation were announced and discussed by public health experts from around England. Ambassadors from successful programmes also presented on innovative strategies for commissioning, delivery and management of NHS Health Checks. The event was filmed and key findings have been collated as video and PDF thought piece. These are freely available at www.healthdiagnostics.co.uk

The long-term outcomes of the NHS Health Checks have yet to be measured. However,
Dr Michael Soljak, Clinical Research Fellow at Imperial College London, kicked off the Forum by presenting encouraging early results from his team’s National Evaluation of the programme. These indicate that uptake has been greater in more deprived areas, suggesting the health checks had been targeted effectively to address those at highest risk from cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. The findings have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Public Health.

The Leadership Forum identified the ‘top five’ factors key to successful provision and uptake of NHS Health Checks:-


1.      Flexibility to fit local needs
2.      Complete quality assurance
3.      Delivery of the check in a single session
4.      A patient-focused IT solution
5.      Seamless data transfer to patient records

Jayne Herring, Public Health Contracts Manager for NHS Tees, explained the need to be flexible and to fit local needs. Tees Public Health has carefully targeted the NHS Health Checks to over 65,000 local individuals, 20,000 of whom were found to be at high risk. Underpinning this project – which has achieved year-on-year DH performance targets – is reliable and efficient IT support. Herring went to lengths to say: “I cannot overestimate the importance of investing in good primary care informatics and IT solutions for the health checks.”

The need for total quality was underlined by panel member
Jacqui Deakin, Quality and Health Improvement Lead for Durham County Council. In an article featured in the Guardian on 10th July, Deakin described her team’s approach as a ‘‘non-medical lifestyle intervention’’. Many of County Durham’s NHS Health Checks are carried out in community settings rather than surgeries or hospitals, making the quality of delivery essential if GPs are to trust the data landing on their clinical systems. Deakin also emphasised the importance of, “Doorstep provision, making every contact count (MECC), and offering choice so that individuals feel they ‘own’ their care pathway.”

Julie Evason, Managing Director of Health Diagnostics, drew attention to the advantages of delivering checks in a single session using Point of Care testing, (as opposed to asking patients to return to their GP to collect results). ‘‘Individuals can then be given brief opportunistic advice immediately after they’ve had a pin-prick blood test and received their health check results. This is about maximising every single intervention.’’ Similarly, a software programme which is patient-focused and designed for use during a consultation can enable individuals to conceive of their level of risk easily through the use of intuitive illustrations, graphs and imagery. Evason explained ‘‘Health Diagnostics have tried to incorporate all of these practical features into Health Options®.’’

Recent innovations in paperless data transfer to patient records were also announced. Evason stated, “If we’re not getting the data back, it simply won’t count towards local authority targets,” adding that data should be getting onto clinical systems within a matter of clicks. The paperless approach doesn’t require data to be re-inputted by GP surgery staff, therefore avoiding the potential for human error and reducing administrative costs to practices. Ultimately, it enables those at particularly high risk to be immediately flagged as the data is sent to the patient’s record quickly and securely.

As the
Guardian Healthcare Network stated earlier this month, “We don’t need to wait around for technology to improve to meet this challenge, but instead use the technologies available to us now, to leapfrog our way closer to 2018, when Hunt wants the NHS to go paperless.”

44 comments :

  1. Hayley Gershwin15 July 2013 at 14:39

    Your conclusions are well focused. Is there a timetable for future forums?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Hayley.

    The quality of the presentations and discussions at the Leadership Forum was extremely high, with the panel offering informed and concise insights on a wide range of issues. These conclusions constituted the most keenly debated topics on the day.

    There are plans in the pipeline to host further sessions of this kind. Health Diagnostics will publish all information on our website once details have been finalised.

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