Opportunistic health checks identify undiagnosed patients

GP-led opportunistic health checks in supermarkets can help to identify undiagnosed patients, including those with CVD, diabetes and respiratory disease.

Dr Lee: logical step is to go out and find patients opportunistically
Dr Lee: logical step is to go out and find patients opportunistically

A pilot study carried out just inside the entrance of a major supermarket, on eight consecutive Saturdays between 10am-2pm, screened 1,024 people in south east London. Each consultation was an average length of four minutes 23 seconds.

The results revealed that 425 people (41%) needed follow-up; 261 (26%) individuals were previously undiagnosed, while 106 had abnormal results in a previously diagnosed condition.

Overall, 95 of patients (9%) had raised blood glucose, 172 (16%) had hypertension, and 52 (5%) had FEV1 less than 75% of the predicted value. In addition, 29% of patients screened positive for depression.

Dr Eugenia Lee, a GP in Greenwich, who led the study, said: ‘We challenged a lot of GPs’ beliefs because like me, they didn’t believe these people were out there. Our practice was doing really well.’

Dr Lee said initial analyses had indicated that some 1,000 patients at her practice were undiagnosed with hypertension, diabetes and COPD: ‘That figure worried me tremendously. It has got to be something that I don’t know about because my practice worked really well and our QOF targets were great, each and every year, so where are these people?’

A trawl through practice records revealed individuals on the list that the practice had not been in contact with for years. Dr Lee said that if the patients were unwilling to present to the surgery then the logical step was to go out and find them opportunistically.

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