GP Health Partners Ltd (GPHP) is a company owned by 18 GP practices in the Surrey Downs locality, formed to undertake activities for the local patient population which practices may not be able to provide individually. One such service is GP Health Partner’s Community Cardiology Diagnostic Service which provides membership practices with both the equipment and the support necessary to undertake ECGs and Ambulatory ECGs closer to the patient rather than via referral to secondary care.

To support operating this service, GPHP joined forces with ECG On-Demand back in 2017 as this meant ECG and AECG interpretation would be returned in a report written in GP friendly language, accompanied by high-resolution recordings and an automated traffic light risk rating.

Pre-COVID, the practices ran their own diagnostic clinics with additional capacity provided in clinics run by GP Health Partners at evenings and weekends.

COVID-19 meant these stopped overnight leaving patients without access and delaying diagnosis.

Many of the patients requiring these diagnostics are also in ‘at risk’ groups so it was imperative to find an alternative whilst keeping patients away from a clinical environment.

As Andrew Roscoe, Managing Director of GPHP explains;

“We knew that ECG On-Demand offered a Mail-Order Holter facility but couldn’t justify the cost of the courier owing to the mechanism for reimbursement but figured if we adapted the model to a ‘Click and Collect’ service there was no reason we couldn’t make it work.”

How does it work?

To meet the growing demand, GP Health Partners set up their own variation of the mail-order service instead inviting patients to pick up and drop off the Holters from a designated site. GPs from the federation practices are able to screen appropriate patients and book directly into a shared diary on the community version of EMIS operated by the federation.

The patient is then contacted by a member of the admin team to liaise on safe collection of the device. By modifying ECG On-Demand’s instructions for fitting, patients are able to access a step-by-step guide to follow when fitting the device themselves.

Simple, easy, effective. So far, this has proved popular with patients who are happy to use the drive through service. Andrew Roscoe, continues;

“Just as GPs have had to adapt to using technology to ‘see’ patients, we’ve also had to look at clever alternatives to provide essential diagnostic services. By managing the service in-house, we can keep costs down but not at the expense of foregoing monitoring.

To safeguard patients and clinical staff, we ask patients collecting or returning the Holters to remain in their car and our Nurses wearing PPE approach the patient in their car. When the device is returned, the Nurse sanitises the Holter and cable to denature the COVID-19 virus and other pathogens but for added peace of mind, we keep that device out of circulation for a minimum of 24 hours. To date, patients aged from 32 to 92 have successfully fitted the device themselves and the speed of the reporting from ECG On-Demand means patients can discuss results promptly with their doctor.

This is a great example of cross organisation teams working together to adapt to new ways of working whilst putting patients first.”

So successful has this been, that GPHP continue to offer patients the choice to either attend or self-fit.