The prognostic significance of impaired renal function has driven the need for its early recognition and the widespread introduction of the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) reporting, and the incorporation of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in the revised Quality Outcomes Framework (QOF) of the General Medical Services (GMS) contract in the UK.Aim
To characterize the effect of these changes on referral numbers and appropriateness to a nephrology service, and the impact of a newly introduced Map of Medicine®-based patient care pathway coupled to the systematic screening of all new referrals.Methods
The study was carried out within a single NHS Trust covering five primary health care Local Health Boards and a population of 560 000.Results
Introduction of eGFR reporting and CKD QOF domains was associated with a rapid 61% increase in new patient referral, and an increase in the mean age of the patients at referral from 63.0 ± 18.1 to 69.1 ± 18.5. The referrals did not correlate with the QOF reported prevalence of CKD. Systematic screening of new referrals demonstrated 36% to be either inappropriate or inadequate in terms of clinical information supplied. Introduction of the renal patient care pathway was associated with a fall in both the number of inadequate and total new referrals received. Overall 62% of all primary care practices registered with the Map of Medicine® and these sent a higher proportion of appropriate referrals and were less likely to generate referrals with inadequate information. The initiative also enabled managed discharges from secondary to primary care settings, freeing up outpatient capacity.Conclusion
The study describes the impact of the introduction eGFR reporting and revision of the GMS contract with Renal QOF, on patient referrals to a nephrology service. In addition, we provide evidence that a new management pathway has helped to regulate and proactively manage the increased demand within the current resources.