Heart surgery data goes online

Heart surgery patients will be able to check their doctor’s performance data online before they are operated on, it has been announced.

Patients across the UK will be able to see how many times their surgeon has performed the procedure and examine their outcome data, the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery said. They will also be able to check the data concerning the hospital where they are to have their operation.

The Blue Book Online website, which is being launched today at the Society’s annual meeting in Brighton, will also provide patients with details about their surgery including expected outcomes, risk factors and long-term outcomes.

A spokeswoman said the website was to help patients make informed choices about their care. And doctors will be able to compare their performance to their peers, she added.

The Society is urging other surgical specialities to follow in their footsteps by producing outcomes data online.

James Roxburgh, president of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery, said: “It seems likely that the only effective way of preventing further gross failures of clinical governance is to have more widespread and transparent use of clinical outcomes data.

“We have previously published our data in a series of comprehensive audits, but now see clear, accurate and comparative web-based information as the most suitable platform for surgeons and patients.

“There needs to be a focus on the whole service we provide and not just clinical outcomes. The Blue Book Online and other associated IT tools will empower patients and lead to better decision making by professionals and a more positive patient experience.”

Ben Bridgewater, consultant cardiac surgeon at the University Hospital of South Manchester, added: “Information is integral to quality healthcare and we have seen an exponential increase in the amount of patients using the internet to find out more accurate and trusted detail about their care.

“In a modernised NHS this is the ideal way for us to publish and keep up-to-date data of surgeons’ and hospitals’ clinical outcomes.”

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