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GPs boost COPD care through practice networks

GP practices in a London borough achieved marked improvements in measures of care for patients with COPD by linking together in networks, research has found.

The study - published in NPJ Primary Care Respiratory Medicine - showed practices in Tower Hamlets managed to increase the number of patients on the COPD register through a range of initiatives, such as calling in smokers within target age groups for spirometry, reviewing asthma diagnoses among persistent smokers and giving new patients brief questionnaires on COPD, by more than 20% over three years.

The project involved eight networks of four to five practices each (population size 25 to 40,000 patients) across the borough getting together to collectively deliver a care package for COPD. The aim was to achieve measurable changes in clinically important indicators of COPD management between 2010 and 2013.

In addition to increasing the COPD registered population, the networks increased the proportion of patients with COPD with a completed annual review, from 53% to 87%, and the proportion of patients referred for pulmonary rehabilitation, which rose from 45% to 70%.

The study authors, led by Dr Sally Hull at Queen Mary University London, concluded: ‘Improvements in COPD primary care in a socially deprived, ethnically diverse locality were observed over a 3-year period following financial and organisational investment into general practice networks.’

A similar approach in the same borough has also led to big improvements in cardiovascular disease prevention measures, in particular the proportion of patients with atrial fibrillation receiving appropriate anticoagulation treatment.

NPJ Prim Care Respir Med 2014; available online 16 October

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