Welcome to PathUser TM Facilitating Demand Management and Best Practice in Pathology

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Introducing PathUser TM

PathUserTM offers a new service to the NHS at Primary Care Group level for users who are dissatisfied with current practise whereby 30% of all laboratory tests are perceived to be inappropriate 1,2,3,4

The PathUserTM project was stimulated by the convergence of a number of factors:

  • A Government driven shift of care from secondary to primary care services, with the concomitant increase in test requesting by less specialist users.
  • An underlying increase in demand on NHS services.
  • Increasing availability of more complex and therefore more expensive tests.
  • The shift from in-house to commercial reagents associated with a large rise in marginal test costs.
  • Recent changes in NHS organisation leading to the formation of Primary Care Groups and Trusts; "corporate" bodies incorporating variable numbers of general practices, holding a uniform budget, unified with that of the associated secondary care hospital.
  • Overspend in one area of a budget such as pathology is therefore liable to result in a corresponding reduction in direct patient clinical services and there is therefore a considerable incentive for the primary care groups to optimise their use of para-clinical services.
  • There are approximately 30,000 GPs in 10,000 general practices in 450 PCGs/PCTs in 330 trusts in 120 health authorities, a significant customer base.
  • The emergence of ‘public-private partnerships’ in the health sector and a specific interest by Dr Stuart Smellie, a senior consultant pathologist in South Durham (which contains the PM’s constituency) in promoting such a project.

At present, no reliable mechanism exists to compare test activity between general practices and the purpose of PathUserTM is to reduce over- and under-subscription to pathology services.

By using PathUserTM it is predicted that savings of up to £180 million, against an annual NHS pathology spend of £1.8 billion (4% of total NHS annual expenditure), could be achieved.

Unlike existing practise, PathUserTM uses the Internet as a communication channel providing performance feedback, support and guidance to subscribing parties. The mechanism monitors and potentially changes the inappropriate use of pathology tests, thereby reducing pressures on Primary Care Group budgets.

The software is built in a generic form, allowing it to be used inside a number of disciplines within the medical sector and it’s many and varied stakeholders include the Government, PCTs, Consultant Pathologists, Professional Associations and GPs.