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Blue Book Online gives heart surgery patients access to their doctor’s success rate


On the Blue Book Online heart surgery patients can find information about heart surgery in the UK and check their surgeon’s and hospital’s performances before an operation.

Patients gain access to their surgeon’s success rate online, such as how many times they have performed the operation and how well each procedure went.

The Society of Cardiothoracic surgeons (SCTS) announced the development of the new website at their annual meeting in Brighton, UK, today (Monday, March 18th).

We were approached by The Society for Cardiothoracic surgeons who had collected all this data which was available to the general public in hardback books as they were looking for ways to make it more accessible and keep it up to date,” said Sarah Thew, User Research Lead at North West E-Health.

Heart surgery patients will be able to research the type of operation they are going to have, to learn details about their surgery, including expected outcomes, risk factors and long-term outcomes.

They can find out how many similar operations are carried out each year and understand the potential risks associated with their operation. Patients will also be able to see the success and failure rates of operations at their NHS hospital.

We had the specialist skills to use the data and have developed a website which makes use of all this information so that patients can have a look at hospitals in their area and the risks associated with different operations and how this has changed over time from 2001.

Patients can also look at their age and other factors which might have an impact. This website speeds the whole process up. We will be updating the information every three months to ensure it is up-to-date,” said Sarah Thew.

Blue Book Online has been designed with input from The University of Manchester.

The website has been developed in partnership with National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research, NorthWest E-Health, a partnership between The University of Manchester, Salford Royal Foundation Trust and Salford NHS, and the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre.

Information is integral to quality healthcare and we have seen an exponential increase in the amount of patients using the internet to find out more accurate and trusted detail about their care. In a modernised NHS this is the ideal way for us to publish and keep up-to-date data of surgeons’ and hospitals’ clinical outcomes,” said Ben Bridgewater, lead author of the report and Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at the University Hospital of South Manchester Said.

Between 1984 and 1995 thirty-five babies died at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and others were left permanently damaged by failures in cardiac surgery. An inquiry showed that some babies could have survived if the operation had been performed elsewhere by a more skilled surgeon.

The SCTS points to recommendations in the recent Francis Report into the failings at Mid Staffordshire hospital which state: “It should be considered the duty of all specialty professional bodies, ideally together with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, to develop measures of outcome in relation to their work and to assist in the development of measures of standards compliance.”

It seems likely that the only effective way of preventing further gross failures of clinical governance is to have more widespread and transparent use of clinical outcomes data. We have previously published our data in a series of comprehensive audits, but now see clear, accurate and comparative web-based information as the most suitable platform for surgeons and patients. There needs to be a focus on the whole service we provide and not just clinical outcomes. The Bluebook online and other associated IT tools will empower patients and lead to better decision making by professionals and a more positive patient experience,” said Mr James Roxburgh, President of the SCTS.

Aside from the Blue Book Online, during the SCTS meeting, digital products aimed at raising standards and improving results in heart surgery are unveiled.

This includes: a demonstration of their e-lab, a professional governance tool kit that allows surgeons to analyze their outcomes and compare them with their peers. The e-lab has been developed without the need for costly and complex IT projects and crucially the methods are transferable to other areas of medicine.

They will also reveal well advanced plans for developing an App for mobile devices. This will allow surgeons on-the-go access to outcomes data and will assist them in making rapid accurate and effective decisions about a patient’s care.

The SCTS are urging other surgical specialties to replicate their investment in outcomes digital technology and transparency, highlighting that effective reporting of outcome data will be a huge step towards preventing failures in clinical governance.

SCTS Annual Meeting and Cardiothoracic Forum 2013 take place from March 17th to March 19th in Brighton, UK.



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