COPD admissions halved by GP practice initiative

Practices in Norfolk have been able to reduce COPD-related hospital admissions by half by targeting resources towards at-risk patients.

GP Dr Daryl Freeman presented the results of the project at the International Primary Care Respiratory Group conference in Toronto this month.

The two practices Thetford involved in the initiative reduced COPD-related admissions from 110 in 2008/09 to 50 in 2009/10. This saved over £97,346 by cutting admission costs from £205,474 to £108,128.

The practices assessed all respiratory readmissions and then targeted resources at those patients. Staff at the practices also underwent intensive spirometry and COPD management tuition.

They wanted to increase the number of patients diagnosed and to ensure that all patients already diagnosed were correctly classified.

The project also sought to increase use of intermediate care and pulmonary rehabilitation and to improve integration with secondary care to reduce unnecessary admissions.

Dr Freeman said the changes had created a ‘truly integrated' COPD service. The majority of the benefits seen could, she said, be put down to the practice-based initiatives.

She said that she did not think the practices had done anything that other practices could not replicate.

‘Most of the effect would appear to be related to improvement in primary care: the adoption of simple measures such as stand by medication, use of a single point of  contact for patients  with COPD, increased awareness within the practice of COPD management and increased use of the intermediate respiratory service.'

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