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Clinical Articles, Lead Article

e-Consultation to improve care, reduce hospital referrals

Hospital referrals and associated costs could be reduced, and patient care enhanced, through the use of an online e-Consult service, according to commercial company Medical Efficiencies Online (MEO).

MEO is calling for healthcare professionals to participate in the PEACE e-Consult pilot project, examining the feasibility of replacing traditional hospital out-patient clinics or A&E referrals with e-Consults via the internet, for medical complaints commonly diagnosed through electrocardiogram (ECG)/Holter.

An ECG/Holter report and a brief clinical summary of the patient can be submitted on-line through a secure internet portal ( to the MEO central server.  A UK wide team of specialist tertiary care consultant cardiologists can then access this secure data on-line from other locations, returning a report containing interpretation of the ECG and management recommendations within 48 hours.

The initiative, funded with a grant from the Arrhythmia Alliance, aims to expedite and enhance patient care, support clinicians in doing more to look after patients in practice, and reduce the number of hospital and A&E referrals.

Although the project is eager to include as many patients for whom an ECG is indicated as possible, its organisers caution that those suspected of having an acute myocardial infarction or coronary syndrome are unsuitable as they require emergency medical care in minutes, rather than in hours.

MEO Clinical & Quality Team member Dr Mark Hall spoke to ArWatch on the system’s benefits from a clinical point of view: “Chapter 8 of the National Service Framework (NSF) suggests that all patients with cardiac conditions or at risk of arrhythmia should have an ECG which is reported by a specialist. MEO makes that possible in a very straightforward way”.

“GPs are empowered to treat their own patients in the community when it is safe to do so.  For hospital cardiologists the number of inappropriate referrals is reduced, and patients have their investigations performed in the community but reported upon by hospital specialists who have access to essential clinical data.”

“Making access to ECG reporting easier and making the reporting process simple should improve the uptake of ECGs in the community, help identify those at risk of arrhythmia and enable prompt evaluation and treatment”.

Dr Neil Hobson, co-founder, says, “MEO was borne out of frustration. My clinics are always bursting and a significant percentage of the patients should either not have been there, or could have very easily been treated at the GP’s surgery. The time is right to utilise cutting edge technology to have specialists support the GPs in the earlier diagnosis and treatment of patients. Having consultants support GPs is no longer an option, but a necessity due to cost constraints and quality improvement expectations”.


Published on: November 3, 2011

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  • ArrhythmiaAlliance
  • Stars
  • Anticoagulation Europe
  • Atrial Fibrillation Association

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