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May 2017

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Associate Professor Craig Nelson

Kidney disease screening program expanded

An innovative Western Health screening program, shown to dramatically improve the detection rate of kidney disease, is being trialled across other chronic disease areas.

Western Health nephrology unit head Craig Nelson led a successful pilot study into the use of e-technologies to detect chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The study, conducted in 2012/2013, with more than 170,000 primary care patients, resulted in a 300 per cent increase in the diagnosis of CKD and at least a doubling of the number of patients meeting several disease management targets.

Software embedded into existing GP programs prompts doctors to order relevant tests for ‘at-risk’ patients.

Associate Professor Nelson has described the program as ‘artificial intelligence on the desktop’ for GPs.

Following the success of Electronic diagnosis and Management Assistance to Primary care in Chronic Kidney Disease (EMAP-CKD), software has been developed by a team of Western Health disease specialists and nurses, population health experts and GPs to detect other chronic diseases – such as heart disease, heart failure, stroke and type two diabetes mellitus – and to help improve disease managements targets.

It is a collaboration between Western Health, Victoria University and the University of Melbourne, under the umbrella of the newly-formed Western Chronic Disease Alliance.

The 15-month trial began in March.

It involves 100,000 patients from eight general practices – six in north-western Melbourne, one in the Macedon Ranges and one in the Goulburn Valley.