UK: Health Protection Agency Collaborates To Introduce A New Pandemic Flu Data System
submited by kickingbird at Sep, 17, 2006 8:27 AM from Medical News Today
Surveillance experts at the Agency have worked with the University of Nottingham , EMIS and GPs to develop a new data collection system called QFLU. QFLU will be able to provide daily figures on the number of people going to their GP suffering from a flu-like illness, the number of patients suffering from respiratory infections such as pneumonia and the number of people given antivirals.
In the event of a pandemic, this information will be crucial in identifying areas of the country that maybe seeing a high number of flu outbreaks and where the NHS may need to concentrate its efforts. In addition, it will be an ‘early warning´ system - identifying areas which start to see outbreaks in the early phases of the pandemic and will help health officials monitor its spread and inform vaccine distribution and wider policy decisions.
The QFLU network incorporates nearly 3,000 GP practices across the UK covering over 17 million people. The practices contribute daily aggregated data on clinical diagnoses and prescribing to a centralised database throughout the year. QFLU is the largest surveillance scheme of its kind in Europe .
Dr Gillian Smith who led on the project for the Agency said, “Our current system reports data on a weekly basis which would be too late in the event of a flu pandemic. QFLU has been developed to be quick, efficient and easy to use by those who will be at the frontline.
"The system has already proved to be a valuable resource last year when we monitored for any increases in respiratory illness, such as coughs or chest infections, in people living near the Buncefield Fuel Depot fire. After analysing the data, we were able to conclude that there wasn´t an increase in respiratory illnesses caused by the incident."
Julia Hippisley-Cox, co-founder of QFLU and professor at the University of Nottingham said, “Pandemic flu is not an easy thing to prepare for. We are very grateful to the GPs who have signed up to provide this vital data, and we would invite others to join them. The information will help individual practices and Primary Care Trusts to plan resources for their patients, as well as helping the government to plan on a national scale.”
Dr David Stables, co-founder of QFLU and Clinical Director of EMIS said: "The QFLU project confirms that information collected by busy GPs during a normal working day is of huge value to the health care of the nation. The information has been submitted by thousands of doctors acting entirely altruistically. EMIS is delighted to be able to help with this, and we look forward to enabling other projects commissioned by the HPA that meet real national health needs."
-- QFLU is a not for profit organisation. The data for the previous 24 hours are automatically extracted from general practices each evening. Once the practice has activated the system to allow data transfer, no further action is necessary. Data can be analysed at various levels corresponding to the health administration units within the UK . This includes data by country, region, and local levels, on a daily or weekly basis. The technology could be applied in other countries that have computerised primary care facilities.
-- Further information on QFLU and QRESEARCH is available from http://www.qresearch.org.
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