Background Partner notification in primary care is problematic and of limited effectiveness despite enthusiasm from primary care providers to engage with sexually transmitted infection (STI) management. Often it relies on the clinician informing the patient to advise his/her sex partners to attend a sexual health clinic for investigations and treatment despite evidence suggesting that only around half of sex partners informed in this way receive treatment. Many of those referred on to a sexual health clinic by a GP fail to attend and follow-up is infrequent.
Aim To develop a robust, web-based tool for managing partner notification for patients diagnosed with bacterial STIs in primary care with broad geographical and service applicability for use in our Accelerated Partner Therapy randomised control trial in primary care.
Method We applied a user-centered design approach to develop a web-based partner notification tool linking different types of community sexual health providers with the specialist GU service. The approach included a pre-design phase using discussions with primary care health professionals, and sexual health clinic health advisers, to determine their needs, current activity and work habits, to ensure that the web-based tool would be successfully integrated in their daily work practice. The web-tool was designed to our specifications by a bespoke software company.
Results and Discussion We have designed a secure, simple to use web tool that allows users in a variety of settings to easily initiate, manage and monitor partner notification. A major advantage of this platform compared to other visualisation tools is its web-based format, which requires no software installation or data downloads. Data are collected in real time, and all partner notification outcomes are recorded. The platform is extendable to facilitate centralised partner notification within sexual health clinical networks across many different heath care providers.
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