Thursday 3rd July 2003

More than £120,000 of funding for a unique computer system - Isabel - which allows any doctor to tap a list of symptoms into a database and receive a list of possible diagnoses, was announced today by Health Minister, John Hutton.

The money will pay for a research project so that the device - already used in children’s wards - can be developed to diagnose symptoms in adults.

The Isabel Medical Charity - set up three years ago by Jason and Charlotte Maude - has supported the development of Isabel. Their daughter, Isabel Maude was transferred to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington after an earlier misdiagnosis at her local hospital had failed to detect the severity of her condition. Isabel recovered during her two months in St Mary's. Since then, Dr Joseph Britto, consultant paediatrician at PICU has worked extensively on the production of this unique tool aimed at assisting doctors and consultants in their decisions about the clinical management of sick children.

Visiting the PICU at St Mary's Hospital, John Hutton said:

"We have been working closely with the Isabel Medical charity to evaluate the system, and have been impressed by its usefulness in diagnosing symptoms in children. It has considerable potential to help patients and doctors. I am pleased to announce that the Government will contribute £127,000 over the next three years for the development of an adult version of the decision support system.
"This funding will match an equal contribution from the Helen Hamlyn Trust. I am hopeful that this will result in the production of a valuable tool and make a significant contribution to improvements in patient safety."

Clinical Director and Co-Founder of Isabel Clinical Decision Support Systems, Dr Joseph Britto MD said:

"In recent trials at 4 NHS hospitals, the Isabel system has been shown to improve the diagnostic accuracy of frontline UK clinicians. Isabel is unique, not just in terms of the diagnostic tool, but through the ability to deliver into the workflow of the clinician treatment guidelines, and lessons learnt from error and knowledge. The Isabel system is likely to have a big impact on morbidity and mortality rates."

Trustee and Co-Founder of Isabel Medical Charity, Jason Maude said:

"The diagnostic error made in my daughter's case was a dramatic example of how the model of healthcare delivery in the UK can sometimes go wrong. The Isabel system has been shown to help clinicians improve patient care and safety and I am therefore delighted that the Department of Health has confirmed additional financial support."

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