Echosens, a high-technology company offering the FibroScan family of products, announced that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the United Kingdom’s health technology assessment body providing national guidance and advice to improve health and social care, issued a MedTech Innovation Briefing (MIB) dedicated to utilization of FibroScan non-invasive technology in the primary care setting. The NICE experts concurred that this approach could provide a cost-effective way for the National Health System (NHS) to assess liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in primary care–reducing the need for treatment, referrals and biopsies, and improving accuracy and speed.

“Using FibroScan as an interventional therapy helps primary care physicians and nurse specialists engage patients by demonstrating the results and outcomes as a value change that patients can visualize on a regular basis and give them confidence that their efforts have an impact,” says Louise Campbell, patient advocate, nurse consultant, founder and medical director of Tawazun Health, and NICE expert commentator. “The real value is that, in terms of battling the liver disease epidemic, it’s better to locate it early and be able to guide patient lifestyle changes than rely on costly drug therapies. Weight loss and exercise are the first step in mitigating liver damage.”

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a spectrum of the disease characterized by the accumulation of lipids in liver cells not associated with the consumption of alcohol. Its more severe form, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is an asymptomatic, progressive and burgeoning liver disease that can lead to increased liver-related mortality and morbidity. Both are major risk factors for concurrent conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidemia, and should be monitored to prevent fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver transplant.

The panel of NICE experts agreed that other technologies fail to offer the same benefits as FibroScan, which is highly portable, less expensive and requires minimal training time. NICE guidance supports the U.K. National Health Service for social care commissioners and staff who are considering using new medical devices and other medical or diagnostic technologies.

According to NICE advice, traditional approaches to assessing liver health non-invasively, such as MRI, CT, ultrasound acoustic radiation force impulse, shear wave elastography and blood biomarkers, as well as invasive liver biopsy, may not be accessible to the broader at-risk population or yield direct measurements. FibroScan based scores such as FAST, combine direct measurements of liver stiffness and fat, as well as circulating biomarkers of inflammation, for a more cost-effective assessment of active fibrotic NASH in patients suspected of having NAFLD.

This technology can be used by anyone who has completed training, leading to patients requiring fewer hospital visits and reducing wait times at secondary care centers (urgent care). According to MIB experts, 9 in 10 people sent to specialist care could have been managed in primary care, where patients can be identified for endoscopy or begin alcohol detox management to reduce emergency department visits. This is more likely to occur at a large practice by a healthcare professional on behalf of the primary care physician.

Dominique Legros, Echosens Group CEO, based at the corporate headquarters and offices in Paris, France, says, “Many patients are asymptomatic but, given the high prevalence of liver disease, FibroScan enables primary care physicians to provide a non-invasive way to examine liver health at the point of care with a dedicated non-invasive technology.”

Source: Company Press Release