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BMJ launches Comorbidities tool

BMJ, a medical knowledge provider, has launched a new Comorbidities tool from BMJ Best Practice to improve care for patients with underlying conditions who are admitted to hospital.

BMJ launches Comorbidities tool
Dr Kieran Walsh: “Modern medicine should be about providing holistic care to patients.” Photograph: Online Marketing at Unsplash.

BMJ Best Practice is the only point of care tool able to treat the whole patient by taking account of a patient's acute (urgent) condition alongside their existing (chronic) comorbidities, says BMJ.

The tool will enable hospitals to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, avoid unnecessary treatments, and reduce length of stay.

One in three adults suffers from multiple chronic conditions. In the UK alone, one in three patients admitted to hospital as an emergency has five or more conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or chronic lung disease (COPD).

This poses a big problem, as healthcare professionals can struggle to access relevant information when clinical guidelines only focus on single conditions.

Recognising this problem, health leaders including Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, warned in The BMJ earlier this year that treating each disease in a patient as if it exists in isolation “will lead to less good outcomes and complicate and duplicate interactions with the healthcare system.”

BMJ Best Practice addresses this by prompting healthcare professionals to consider a patient’s comorbidities when accessing urgent treatment information.

When comorbidities are selected, a tailored patient management plan - based on the latest evidence - is produced instantly, and where evidence is scarce or equivocal, expert opinion is provided.

Professor Gerry Rayman, Lead Consultant for Diabetes and Endocrinology at the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, says: “If healthcare professionals recognise the comorbidities at an early stage and address them, the impact on that patient’s stay in hospital will be significant.”

Dr Kieran Walsh, Clinical Director at BMJ says: “Modern medicine should be about providing holistic care to patients. This means treating the patient’s acute condition and any pre-existing comorbidities at the same time. This improves quality of care, and efficiencies are made through the effective management of the patient, leading to better clinical outcomes, shorter hospital stays and fewer readmissions.”

To support the continued response to the pandemic, BMJ is now providing free access to two BMJ Best Practice - Comorbidities topics: COVID-19 and Acute Exacerbation of COPD. This is particularly important as, says BMJ, we know that patients with existing comorbidities are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.