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CVD screening to be virtual

The planned national screening programme for cardiovascular disease will use computer record searches to limit the effect on GP workload, Pulse can reveal.

The committee is considering a new computer system capable of estimating Framingham risk scores for every patient on a GP's practice list.

The new system arrives at score estimates by assessing recorded risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol or population averages where data is absent.

A new study, published in Informatics in Primary Care, concludes the system can effectively identify untreated patients who are eligible for primary prevention using existing re-cords – and will radically cut the number of patients requiring full assessment.

Lead developer Dr Tom Marshall – the public health expert on the NICE lipid modification guideline development group – has calculated the system would save a practice with a list size of 12,000 £45,121 in screening costs over full screening.

Dr Marshall, senior lecturer in public health at the University of Birmingham, said: 'It's something that will be useful to practices if they are interested in identifying people – this is at present the best way of doing that.'

He said he had presented it to National Screening Committee director Sir Muir Gray.

Sir Muir confirmed searching records would definitely form part of screening. 'Record-based assessing will be part of the programme,' he said.

Plans for screening will be finalised in the autumn.

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