Harnessing teledermatology to improve cancer care in Leeds
A feature created by HSJ in co-operation with the Leeds Cancer Programme
Written by Claire Read, HSJ
Cross-sector collaboration to improve cancer care is not a new idea in Leeds, but a fresh initiative is aiming to make the approach even more effective. Launched last year, the Leeds Cancer Programme is a partnership between the local authority, NHS and Macmillan Cancer Support. There is optimism this new mechanism will strengthen and deepen connections between colleagues – and ultimately improve outcomes.
In the past six months, for instance, the Programme has been the means of introducing a new pathway for suspected skin cancer cases. The teledermatology scheme enables GPs to receive speedier expert input without the need for patients to attend unnecessary clinic appointments…
Smaller, local tech projects can help meet needs quickly
Massive nationally-driven technology projects in the NHS are history now, replaced by smaller, local projects delivered over months, not years. In most instances we don’t knock down the old house and build a new one. Instead, we look to improve the old house.
This is a much better way of doing things. It forces you to ask whether all or some of what you have already is good enough. Then you can fill the gaps with small packages of tech to deliver something that fits your local needs quickly.
For example, in Leeds, the two-week wait skin cancer pathway in the e-Referral Service (eRS) is well used and understood by GPs and secondary care doctors. So, the challenge was not to replace eRS, but to find the quickest and easiest way of taking high-quality images of skin lesions and getting them into eRS.
Consultant Connect’s PhotoSAF safe clinical photography app met Leeds’ requirements. Because it’s so simple, GPs didn’t need any training to get started. Since July 2018, 13,000 photos have been taken. In October 2018 almost a quarter of two-week wait patients whose referral included a photo were being discharged before going to hospital.
By using tech to improve what they already had rather than starting from scratch, Leeds were able to launch their project quickly and economically. And patients have benefited from Leeds’ success.
Jonathan Patrick, CEO, Consultant Connect
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