Map of medicine Care Pathway
A common method for supporting GPs through this process in other conditions is using a care pathway. A care pathway is a flowchart that asks key questions and, depending on the answers, offers the GP guidance on what to do next or what conclusion they have reached. Some of these care pathways are quite easy but others, such as chronic oedema/lymphoedema are actually quite complex, there are many different causes of swelling, many medications that can make it worse and many medical conditions that can include swelling as a symptom. Once everything else has been excluded, and chronic oedema/lymphoedema is suspected what does the GP do then, refer to a clinic?, try and manage it themselves, is there even a clinic available to them? As you can see it may not be as easy as we would imagine.
The LSN generally has a response to such challenges of finding and implementing a solution and this situation was no different. After much investigation, we decided to work with Map of Medicine to produce a care pathway for Chronic Oedema/Lymphoedema. The care pathway, which would be available to many GPs directly to the computer on their surgery desk, would be funded by the LSN and written by Professor Peter Mortimer and Dr Vaughan Keeley with input from other experts and patients. We imagined the process would be relatively simple and we anticipated that the pathway would be launched within a few months! As it turned out, it has taken very much longer than we imagined to ensure that the pathway is accurate and reflects the needs of the GP. However, the wait is over and we are delighted to announce that the pathway went live at the end of May. We believe that this is a huge step forward in our mission to ensure that patients receive the care and support that they need.
Enclosed in this issue of LymphLine you will find a postcard which advertises the pathway that we hope you will be able to pass on to your GP for us it also tells them to contact us for a hard copy version if they are not able to access the Map of Medicine from their surgery. Imagine a scene when rather than presenting to your GP with unexplained swelling and being told to put your feet up or take Nurofen and rest your arm your GP turns to his computer, types in one of the key words we have identified, such as swelling, recurrent cellulitis, oedema, etc. and they are presented with a clear, evidence based path to follow, complete with advice that they can give to you about what you can do to help yourself whilst you wait for investigations or referral what a difference it would have made to so many of you and hopefully what a difference it will make to others in the future.
They say that patience is a virtue, and in this case, we are sure that the waiting will have been worth it.