In an effort to address the challenges posed by seasonal influenza, Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland conducted a pilot project to test and treat flu patients more effectively. The objective was to diagnose flu earlier and provide appropriate treatment interventions to alleviate pressure on general practice and hospital Emergency Departments.
Through a collaborative effort involving the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) for the North West Coast, York and Humber AHSN, Unity Insights, Health Call, and Roche Products, a flu test and treat community pathway was designed. The pilot took place across various locations in Yorkshire and the North West of England during the winter season.
Around 43,000 clinically at-risk patients were invited to have a flu test once they developed flu-like symptoms. The results of the pilot were promising, with 33 out of 250 at-risk individuals testing positive for flu. Of these, 23 were prescribed antivirals and six were prescribed antibiotics. The pilot managed to avoid an estimated 17 hospitalizations, four deaths, and one ICU admission based on national averages for flu surveillance. Additionally, the potential cost savings from avoided hospital admissions and ICU admissions amounted to £37,000 and £1,000, respectively, based on NHS cost details.
The success of rapid testing for COVID-19 during the pandemic served as proof of concept for the value of point-of-care testing. This flu pilot further demonstrates that collaborative efforts between industry, the NHS, and government can be effective in addressing significant health challenges.
While partnerships like these have their challenges, such as finding capacity in the NHS workforce to support innovations, there is a growing consensus that diagnostics can play a crucial role in population health. Shifting from a reactive model to a proactive one that allows for early detection and prevention of illnesses is key to relieving pressure on the healthcare system in the short, medium, and long term.
In conclusion, the pilot project conducted by Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland shows promising results in improving flu diagnosis and treatment interventions. By diagnosing flu earlier and providing appropriate treatment, the burden on healthcare resources can be reduced, ultimately benefiting patients and the healthcare system as a whole.
– Dr Ashton Harper, head of medical affairs, Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland