NIPE National Failsafe Solution
3 July 2013
National Screening Committee (NSC) confirms national roll-out of Northgate’s Screening Management and Reporting Tool (SMaRT) solution for the Newborn Infant Physical Examination (NIPE) Programme, in England.
The NIPE Programme aims to identify babies with congenital conditions of the heart, eyes, hips or testes. Initial checks are undertaken within 72 hours of birth as part of the ‘head-to-toe’ – the “newborn” part of the physical examination.
The purpose of the examination is to identify babies likely to have conditions that may need further monitoring, investigation or treatment. However, as some conditions can develop later, the examination is repeated at six to eight weeks of age – the “infant” part of the physical examination.
Every year a number of children have some form of congenital condition, this varies depending on the condition they have. For example:
- Hips: The incidence of cases needing operative treatment is 1-2 per 1,000 live born infants
- Eyes: The main abnormalities are cataracts and retinoblastoma. These cases are rare – 2 or 3 in every 10,000 live births
- Testes: Undescended testes are found in about 2% of male infants at birth.
Over time the way the examination has been undertaken has varied considerably in both, the delivery of the examination and the way in which supporting information is captured and therefore was an ideal candidate for the NSC’s programme for Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement.
Working with the NSC’s NIPE Programme Centre, Northgate developed a solution (NIPE SMaRT). This combined with a set of reworked procedures and processes, was piloted between 2009-2012 at 21 maternity units to assess whether the introduction of screening programmes could be monitored and assessed more easily. The pilot involved the examination of 36,000 babies (approximately 10% of babies receiving the newborn physical examination).
Following a rigorous evaluation of the pilot outcomes of Northgate’s SMaRT solution, the new protocol and processes were given a unanimous green light by Department of Health and the NSC. The programme is now about to commence the national roll-out.
Why is this important?
Detecting congenital medical conditions early presents the best opportunity for swift diagnosis and treatment. It can be distressing for any parent to discover that their child has a medical condition at any point in their life. Late diagnosis can, for some children, mean living with a condition that has a major impact on them and their family – an impact that could have been avoided or reduced if the condition had been detected and treated early. By providing a failsafe solution for examinations not offered or missed, as well as a way to track children through the healthcare system, will make it possible to ensure that follow-up consultation and treatment are timely.
Additionally, by implementing our SMaRT solution, clinicians will have the ability to print referral letters or medical notes, reducing the need to enter or write notes more than once and instant secure access to online patient records – effectively providing better patient care.