I chaired a session at the Nuffield Trust’s annual predictive risk conference a few weeks ago, and the trust has just published more information about the event (including a blog post from myself). As I wrote in a Tweet, predictive risk is a very boring name for what is, in principle at least, a good idea – using statistical analysis to find people who might benefit from health interventions of various kinds, and then targeting those interventions on them.
The most common use at the moment is trying to spot people at risk of being needlessly admitted to hospital because they have a long-term condition that is not being well managed but could be treated in the community or using self-moniting devices linked to call centres that can send help if patients deteriorate (telehealth).
The government is encouraging GPs to do this because the NHS should save money if patients are kept out of expensive hospitals. Although, it has to be said there is something of a leap of faith here because, at the moment, predictive risk projects tend to find a lot of patients in such a bad way that improving their care is a good thing to do – but one that costs money.
Over time, this should stop happening. But one of the interesting themes of the conference was that people benefit more from ‘old fashioned’ GP care than some of the fancier new community and telehealth projects that tend to get these ideas tried out. This is not the kind of thing that policy makers want to hear, because they like to look ‘new’ and ‘innovative’ at every opportunity. But it should definitely be food for thought for GPs and their leaders.