Bettina Fitt, General Manager, UK & Ireland, GE Healthcare
In early July, GE Healthcare wrote to Members of the UK parliament in Westminster with a briefing on Early Diagnosis by Karen Taylor, OBE, former Director of the Value for Money Studies at the UK’s National Audit Office. Despite conclusive evidence proving early diagnosis of disease to be cost effective, better for patients’ outcomes and the economy of the National Health Service, uptake of improved clinical pathways focused on early diagnosis is proving slow and inconsistent, the briefing says. The briefing contains detailed case examples for in cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, stroke and heart disease.
“With the reforms to the NHS in England at the top of political and media agendas, whatever the outcome in terms of how services are commissioned, the NHS needs to ensure that patients are diagnosed and treated early enough to best alleviate their pain and suffering,” says Bettina Fitt, UK General Manager, GE Healthcare. “It’s not just better medicine, it makes economic sense too.
“The NHS stands at a crossroads in healthcare and is in a position to make a choice: invest now in making a determined shift towards early detection, diagnosis and treatment, or pay much more later as disease demographics threaten to bankrupt our healthcare system,” Fitt says.
The briefing highlights that debate about reform has distracted the attention of many in the NHS and may undermine the implementation of important changes to clinical care pathways that have been widely acknowledged as necessary if the NHS is to serve patients better.
Improved patient care with improved outcomes, says the briefing, requires investment in early diagnostic tools underpinned by modern IT systems to deliver diagnostic information more rapidly, accompanied by earlier treatment using more precise therapies.