Computerised systematic secondary prevention in ischaemic heart disease: A study in one practice
Starkey C., Michaelis J., De Lusignan S.
Background: One of the most effective interventions that the primary health care team can make is that of secondary prevention in ischaemic heart disease (IHD). There is still a need to improve the uptake of effective interventions such as aspirin and statins in these patients. General Practice in the UK is 95% computerised, but many functions are underutilised. In the majority of cases primary care clinicians use the keyboard rather than mouse for data entry. Methods of data entry using the keyboard or CHUI (Character User Interface) can be cumbersome and time consuming. This can limit data collection and its assimilation for patient care. The object of this study was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of a new software programme, which provides computerised support to primary care staff in their preventive care of IHD patients. Aim: To demonstrate that a systematic computer facilitated secondary prevention programme for IHD was effective, feasible, and acceptable to patients and improved patient care. Method: Evidence-based guidelines and intervention levels for secondary prevention of IHD were agreed at practice level and embedded in the software. Patients aged 80 and under were identified by the use of Read codes and repeat prescribing. The nurse-run programme consisted of a detailed review of electronic and written records and then the clinical review of 141 patients. At follow-up patients were issued with a questionnaire to assess their satisfaction with the process. Results: From a general practice computer search for ischaemic heart disease Read Code (G3) and/or nitrate prescription an initial cohort of 242 patients was established. 90 were excluded on clinical grounds (not IHD, deceased, over-riding other clinical problems), and eleven patients could not be recruited (eight declined and three had moved away). The final cohort consisted of 141 patients, of whom 101 patients suffered angina, 67 had a previous history of myocardial infarction, and 28 had had coronary artery bypass grafting. Hypertension had been diagnosed in 80 and hyperlipidaemia in 43. As a result of the study new diagnoses included: hyperlipidaemia where statins were indicated (38), congestive cardiac failure requiring treatment with ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) inhibitors (2) and carotid bruits requiring referral (4). In addition diabetes was diagnosed in three patients. The programme proved acceptable to patients, doctors and practice staff; follow-up continues. Conclusion: The use of this methodology, in a single practice, has improved the care of patients well beyond that achieved with established template-based secondary prevention programmes. The outcome has been measured in terms of increased diagnosis and active management of hyperlipidaemia and other risk factors.