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Cardiac telemedicine boost

At least £45m a year could be saved by rolling out cardiac telemedicine across the country, an NHS audit suggests.

Analysis of a pilot in Lancashire and Cumbria found using telemedicine support for ECGs cut A&E attendances generated from primary care by 16%. It also provided access to prompt interpretation of ECGs and saved clinician and management time.In the pilot, ECG results from machines in 15 surgeries were transmitted by phone to a call centre where clinically trained staff were available round the clock to interpret results.'The benefits to patient care, the support offered to GPs and the potential financial savings this technology offers present the NHS with an opportunity that should be capitalised upon,' the report stated. However, cost was a concern to GPs, with few identified as willing to pay for equipment themselves. Although some believed the equipment would pay for itself, others felt it was 'prohibitively expensive', according to MORI, who polled users for the report. MORI also found that whereas GPs who previously had no access to ECGs were positive, those with access expressed 'only muted enthusiasm'.Joe Rafferty, director of commissioning and performance for NHS North West, said: 'It is now timely for commissioners to embrace these services to meet future healthcare demands and this is why we are sharing our findings so widely.'

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