The Effectiveness of Information Technology-Supported Shared Care for Patients With Chronic Disease: A Systematic Review
BACKGROUND The long-term management of patients with chronic conditions such as hypertension presents problems for the health services. Shared care addresses these by coordinating care and defining responsibilities. AIM This study set out to investigate the feasibility, acceptability and cost effectiveness of shared general practitioner-hospital care for well-controlled hypertensive patients in an urban area by comparing three matched groups of patients. METHOD A total of 554 outpatient clinic attenders, considered suitable for shared care by their consultant, were randomly allocated to shared care or follow up in the outpatient clinic; a third group of 277 patients was selected from a nurse practitioner clinic. Main outcome measures were the proportion of patients in the second year of follow up who had undergone a complete review (blood pressure measurement, serum creatinine level result and electrocardiograph report), acceptability to patients and general practitioners as assessed by questionnaire, and cost per complete review in year two (National Health Service and patient costs). RESULTS After two years 220 (82%) shared care patients had had a complete review compared with 146 (54%) outpatient clinic attenders and 202 (75%) nurse practitioner clinic attenders. Blood pressure control was similar in each group. Of 297 general practitioners invited, 85% wished to participate in the study; 61% of questionnaire respondents subsequently wanted shared care to continue while 25% were unsure. Half of the patients receiving shared care preferred this method of follow up. The rank order of cost-effectiveness ratios was shared care, nurse practitioner care and conventional outpatient care, relative differences being most marked when only patient costs were considered. CONCLUSION Shared care for hypertension is feasible in an urban setting, acceptable to the majority of participants and is a cost-effective method of long-term follow up.