Our role and responsibility in helping to prevent more tragic deaths

I’m sure many of you will have read the tragic story of William Mead – a 12-month old child who tragically died from sepsis which was missed by GPs, out of hours services and NHS 111. But it’s not just William – some 44,000 people die from sepsis every year in the UK, and it is estimated that a third of those could have been saved by better awareness and earlier treatment.

Whilst William’s GP was not using an EMIS Health system, many GPs, urgent care centres and emergency departments will be using one of our systems. In emergency departments across the UK, EMIS Health Symphony already includes a sepsis management tool, which many trusts chose to implement – this provides lifesaving guidance on the diagnosis and management of acute sepsis.

There has not been the same recognition of the problem outside hospitals, but William’s story has brought this sharply into focus over the last month. Two weeks ago, we got a call from NHS England asking for our help. Since then, Dr Rob Walter (Director of Clinical Implementation) has worked with Sepsis Trust UK and other key national experts to create and implement an algorithm in EMIS Web that will constantly scan information added within a consultation to identify features of sepsis. If the patient has enough signs or symptoms, then the clinician will be alerted that sepsis is likely (or highly likely) and be given guidance on the correct next steps for the patient management.

This is of course not a unique case. EMIS Health also supports the proactive identification of cancer (QCancer), diabetes (QDiabetes) and many other conditions. We recently released a tool to assist in the diagnosis and management of Zika virus.

Our vision goes beyond our users. Not only have we insisted that all the Qscores are ‘open’ so other suppliers can implement them to support patients with their systems, but we have also made the sepsis algorithm available to other suppliers for the same reason. We do this because we really do believe we can help prevent more tragic deaths like William Mead’s.

This is just one way we can ensure we support longer and healthier lives.