Technology to prevent acute kidney injury wherever possible, Kennedy tells BBC

4 years ago Coverage, News

Technology that could predict and prevent deadly acute kidney injury (AKI) is being rolled out across a pioneering NHS trust in the south of England, Donald Kennedy, managing director of Patientrack told BBC Sussex today.

Speaking on the radio channel’s Breakfast Show, Kennedy explained how the condition, which is believed to be linked with 100,000 deaths in UK hospitals every year, could be avoided, now that Patientrack was being used at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to detect patients at risk. The aim is to expand use of the AKI warning system across the health service.

“This is a really devastating condition,” Kennedy told the BBC. “Delayed recognition in spotting acute kidney injury is a key issue. When a patient is admitted into hospital our system draws in specific information about that patient from the hospital’s own IT systems. Then using a nationally approved formula we calculate whether a patient has acute kidney injury and, if so, the severity. We make this information immediately available to doctors and nurses on their own computers, smartphones and tablet computers, so the information is available in a very convenient way, anytime, anywhere.

“Clinicians can, at a glance, monitor these at-risk patients and take immediate appropriate action. What is even more exciting is that doctors at the Western Sussex trust have also created a unique new, risk scoring formula, that can actually predict if a patient may be likely to get acute kidney injury. We use this formula to create an electronic warning flag for these patients, as well as an automated action plan, essentially preventing this condition wherever possible.”

Fiona Loud, policy director at the British Kidney Patient Association welcomed the introduction of the technology.

“We really do welcome anything that will help doctors and nurses be on top of who is deteriorating or who is indeed at risk of deterioration,” she told BBC Sussex. “Figures show that about one in five people who are admitted to hospital who are seriously ill will develop or already have acute kidney injury. It is not something that just affects people we would typically support at the British Kidney Patient Association, it can affect anybody who is acutely ill.”

Tools and risk scoring algorithms that enable doctors and nurses to become aware that a person is at risk or is starting to deteriorate, didn’t replace important observations, but were very welcome, she said, adding that particularly ill patients being treated for conditions like pneumonia or cancer, can abruptly start to develop kidney problems due to the stress placed on their bodies.

“This is something we welcome the attention on. If you think that about a third of those cases where there is avoidable harm can be prevented, that will stop people moving on to the consequences of kidney failure, with a need for dialysis or transplantation or indeed death. There are consequences there that we all work together to try to avoid.”

Patientrack, which has been used at Western Sussex Hospitals for several years, was first applied to tackle acute kidney injury during a trial that started last year. Following a recent funding win from the Department of Health through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) and managed by the National Institute for Health Research Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative (NIHR Devices for Dignity HTC), it is now hoped the technology will be rolled out across the NHS.

The condition is a key concern for the NHS, which will reward NHS England hospitals for identifying those with AKI under its Commissioning for Quality and Innovation payment framework this year. The Patientrack system goes beyond the requirements of the CQUIN by helping hospitals predict, and thus possibly prevent, the incidence of AKI.

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