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Leics ICB goes digital to tackle delayed diagnosis in breathlessness

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Leicester and Hinckley Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) are embarking on a new collaboration with Lenus Health to digitally transform their breathlessness diagnostic pathway to enhance patient care and streamline healthcare delivery.

Breathlessness, a distressing symptom affecting around 10 per cent of the UK population.

It is often notoriously complex to diagnose results in long delays to treatment for patients, with over 66 per cent of cases caused by underlying cardiorespiratory diseases.

The project aims to transform an existing symptom-based care pathway, using digital tools, to reduce delays to diagnosis.

It will combine triage, parallel testing and a streamlined, integrated and structured approach to diagnosis data capture.

By configuring the Lenus Diagnose pathway product, supplied by Lenus Health, the project aims to evidence significant reductions in time to diagnosis and treatment by bringing in remote specialist input earlier into decision making.

Jim McNair, Director, Lenus Health said: “Breathlessness diagnosis is complex and we are delighted to be working in partnership across Leicestershire healthcare providers to optimise activities and join up data to speed up diagnosis and time to treatment.

“This not only helps the patients themselves but reduces pressure at our hospital front doors because of undiagnosed and untreated disease.”

The project, led by Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board includes primary care, secondary care and academia to support its implementation.

At the forefront of this initiative will be to utilise the existing Leicester CDC and new Hinckley CDC when operational early 2025, run by University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, where patients’ test results will be integrated into the pathway aligning with the GP Direct Access guidelines.

Dr Louise Ryan is GP and clinical lead for respiratory illness at Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) ICB.

She said: “Breathing difficulties affect many patients in our local area and this initiative will help us, in many cases, to diagnose the underlying cause in GP practices, without having to refer patients to secondary care.

“This will speed up diagnosis for patients and means that they can be treated sooner, without having to visit a hospital.”

To complement the CDC project, an InnovateUK funded AKT2i project between the University of Leicester and Lenus Health, will support amongst other activities evidence generation of the interventions benefits.

The project builds on the Lenus Diagnose product successfully implemented in Heart Failure, wider CVD, and COPD pathways where it has significantly reduced time to diagnosis and treatment and delivered service efficiencies to the healthcare system.

Dr Gillian Doe is research programme manager and respiratory physiotherapist at the University of Leicester.

She said: “Our team is committed to research in improving the pathway to diagnosis and symptom management for individuals living with breathlessness.

“The Innovate UK and CDC funding will support the digital optimisation of the Breathlessness pathway in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We are excited to work in partnership with Lenus and NHS partners to deliver this project.”

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