MedCity exists to promote and grow the world-leading life sciences cluster of The Golden Triangle - encouraging and promoting life sciences investment, entrepreneurship, and industry across Cambridge, London and Oxford. We offer a front door service to the region by working closely with our partners: Cambridge University Health Partners, King’s Health Partners, Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre, the Mayor of London, Oxford Academic Health Science Centre and UCLPartners.

Our blog series shines a spotlight on each of our partners and provides readers with a snapshot of their priorities. This month, Dr Charlie Davie, Managing Director at UCLPartners talks about their work to reduce strokes among people with atrial fibrillation.

“It’s an exciting yet challenging time in healthcare and life sciences with the eagerly anticipated policies setting the national frameworks, subsequent realisation of investment and the changing landscape in health and care.  We’re embracing this at UCLPartners, where we work with our partner organisations in health and care, academia and industry to transform the health and wellbeing of the population.

Through our roles as an Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) and an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) we facilitate the introduction of scientific discoveries and healthcare innovation into the frontline NHS.  We support improvements in the form of new technologies, treatments, models of care and through building a skilled workforce that’s fit for the future.  We relentlessly focus on where the need and benefit is greatest for our partners, their patients and the population.

Our recently published Year in Review highlights some of the impressive achievements from our partnership and the teams of people who are working together to improve the health and wellbeing of people across the region.

One of the examples we showcase is our work to reduce strokes among people with atrial fibrillation (AF), which affects around one million people in the UK. Approximately a quarter of these people are undiagnosed as often the symptoms, which include an irregular or abnormally fast heart rate, go undetected.  As well as the effect on people’s lives – AF is responsible for approximately 15-20% of all strokes in the country – and often producing the most severe ongoing disability.  It is a major financial burden on the NHS, with the cost of stroke representing around 5% of NHS budgets.

At UCLPartners, we work with our partners to improve detection of AF and ensure people are on appropriate anticoagulation medication.  We started in Camden and are now working directly with 17 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), plus 2 local pharmacy groups and an acute provider to help develop and implement new models of care for people with AF.  This work involves a wide variety of stakeholder groups including charities, clinicians and industry partners to help identify areas for improvement along the whole care pathway.  Working closely with the north east London Clinical Effectiveness Group (CEG), we facilitate the adoption and spread of best practice across the region.

In addition to improving care pathways, we are supporting the introduction of an innovative mobile single lead ECG device that can detect AF. Kardia AliveCor is a simple handheld device developed to assist with opportunistic pulse checks in primary care. It works in conjunction with an app downloaded onto a mobile device (phone or tablet) and assesses heart rate and rhythm to determine if it is normal or abnormal and therefore requires follow-up.

Our local work on AF is already extending across London through our collaboration with the other London AHSNs, the strategic clinical networks, and AF charities.  Four of our local innovations were selected for national AHSN adoption.

The outcome of this is good news for patients and great news for the NHS.  In our region, between 2013 and 2016, anticoagulation rates increased by 12% against the 2012/13 baseline data, resulting in almost 4,000 more people with AF being anticoagulated.  It is estimated that this will prevent 360 strokes and based on the annual cost of stroke to the health and care system this would result in £8 million savings over a five-year period.  These are significant results in terms of value for the NHS and quality of life for the people affected.

This is one example of the impact we can make when we combine the strengths of our partners with our internal expertise to address the needs of the population. ”

UCLPartners brings together people and organisations to transform the health and wellbeing of the population.  Working in partnership and at pace, its members from the NHS and higher education support the healthcare system serving over six million people in parts of London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex.