NICE backs AF support tool developed by West Midlands GP

A tool developed by a West Midlands GP to improve treatment for patients with AF is being rolled out to thousands of practices across England, after being endorsed by NICE.

Dr Nick Boeckx
Dr Nick Boeckx

AF is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, affecting more than 1m patients in the UK and around 7% of people aged over 65, and is a major cause of stroke.

NICE says the tool developed by Bromsgrove GP Dr Nick Boeckx will make it 'easier for clinicians to implement NICE guidance and ensure these patients receive improved, personalised treatment'.

Estimates suggest optimal treatment for AF patients could prevent as many as 14,000 strokes over the next three years, potentially reducing NHS costs by around £240m.

AF treatment

The tool developed by Dr Boeckx with EMIS Health 'considers variables such as height, weight, age, serum creatinine, medical history and existing medication to help accurately calculate and monitor the correct doses of anticoagulant drugs to treat AF'. A total of 4,166 GP practices using the EMIS Web IT system will have access to the tool.

Dr Boeckx said: 'What the AF tool gives hard-pressed GPs is relevant information instantly from within the patient’s record. It makes it much easier, safer and quicker to get patients on the right dose of medication. And by better understanding individual patients’ risks, I hope we can help cut the all-too-high number of those suffering stroke and other complications such as heart attack, limb amputation and dementia.

'While tools exist outside clinical IT systems to treat AF, their uptake has been low because they are too time consuming to be of practical use in the time-pressured GP setting. Integrating decision support within EMIS Web will I believe make relevant guidance instantly accessible and far more impactful.'

Nicola Bent, director of the System Engagement Programme at NICE, said: 'We’re pleased to endorse this resource which supports clinicians in primary care to make treatment decisions about patients with atrial fibrillation. This makes it easier for clinicians to implement NICE guidance and ensure these patients receive improved, personalised treatment to meet their individual needs.'

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