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Video: Real-world impacts of remote monitoring and digital tech

On the first day of HTN Now, we welcomed Inhealthcare to discuss remote patient monitoring, digital healthcare, and the real-world impact of these. Jamie Innes, Product Director for the health technology company, led the presentation.

Jamie began by outlining the reach of the company’s scope: “At Inhealthcare we provide over 100 different digital services across a wide range of clinical specialities. We are able to support people in their own homes with our remote monitoring services. We also provide services to care homes. We support a wide variety of both short and long-term conditions and we appreciate every NHS organisation is slightly different so our services are personalised to the needs of our customers.”

Inhealthcare is a provider of digital health solutions across the UK and supports over one million patients through its services. Jamie went on to describe how Inhealthcare aims to “keep things simple from a patient’s perspective” and “allow[s] them to receive all of their information and support through a single interface.”

Jamie said of the patient approach, “patient-centred design is a really important philosophy that we follow at Inhealthcare and, whenever we’re designing digital health services, we always consider the patient.”

The health tech professional also described the pitfall of digital service installation, saying: “If the introduction of a new digital service doesn’t improve the way patients access care or information, then it will ultimately fail.”

In addition to Inhealthcare’s network across the UK, in major towns and cities, Jamie revealed that there are plans for wider regional rollouts of the single digital platform in larger geographical areas such as the North East and Cumbria, where Inhealthcare partner with Health Call, a regional body run by the acute trusts within the region.

When discussing the challenges of implementing digital platforms, Jamie said: “Real common things that organisations forget when they’re deploying digital health technologies are, what’s in it from the patient’s perspective? what’s going to increase the adoption of my service?”

The pandemic has thrown up different barriers over the past year, Jamie added, and discussed its lasting impact on digital health: “Many organisations have had to drastically alter the way they offer services to patients, with many NHS services now attempting to restart non-urgent services and go through the backlog of appointments and procedures that we’ve delayed for the past 15 months. We’re starting to see the capabilities that digital health can provide in supporting NHS organisations to manage that future demand and in supporting patients receiving care in different ways.”

Integration was explored as the NHS has made ICSs a key part of the Long Term Plan. Jamie added: “Many organisations have had integration and sharing of data at the top of their agenda for years, it’s a common issue that causes a lot of unnecessary administration and duplication of effort by healthcare professionals. Integration to me is about providing healthcare professionals with access to the information they need at the point of care to make an informed judgment, and this means that data should always be going into those master records.”

Jamie also discussed digital inclusion and how to make digital services accessible to all: “Our approach at Inhealthcare has been that we should make digital health accessible to everybody. We believe that nobody should be excluded from digital health because of the access they have to technology. Every individual should be provided with the opportunity to engage in digital health.”

Giving users choice can help combat digital exclusion, as Jamie explained: “Our approach has been to provide patients with a choice about how they would like to interact with their healthcare professional, [and to] provide really simple, easy ways for individuals to access services without the need for a smartphone or even an internet connection.”

Case studies and real-world examples were the main focus of the presentation. Jamie gave some background in a setting where digital services have increased recently: “The first area I wanted to talk through was care homes. This is because, in the past 12 months, it’s where we’ve seen some of the biggest increase in demand for digital services. Care homes were traditionally areas which were slow on the adoption of digital technologies, partly due to funding but also the workforce that didn’t receive training on the use of digital technologies. COVID has changed a lot of how we deliver services into care homes.”

Continuing with the topic of care homes, Jamie added: “I wanted to talk to you about an example we delivered in the North East of England, with one of our customers. We adopted the use of the SBAR [Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation] tool and it allows for a consistent format of information to be exchanged between the care home and the community. It allows for organisations to guarantee a minimum data set, and a minimum data set of observations and information to come through. This can allow providers to make an informed judgment, make a decision about how they want to respond to that request for assistance.”

The results of the implementation also led to benefits in emergency care, as Jamie commented: “What we’ve seen through the delivery of the service is a dramatic reduction in the number of A&E, emergency admissions within the care homes.”

The next real-world example came from immunisation records in children and young people. Jamie said: “We’ve worked with a number of different providers across the UK on delivering childhood immunisation services over the past two years. These started with a requirement to digitise the existing process of gathering consent forms; many NHS organisations publish paper forms to schools, and these were sent home with their children in the bottom of their bags, potentially never to be seen again. It relied on a lot of paperwork and manual transcription, collecting that information.”

Inhealthcare developed a fully digital consent form, saving paper and time for parents and clinical staff. Consent information could then be collected without manual transcription, and a flagging system was introduced, so anything that may require additional support through the consent form could be highlighted. An app was also introduced to help provide vaccine information such as batch numbers, type of vaccine and other data that could be collected and fed back into the clinical health system. An increase in participation in the consent process followed.

The third real-world case study involved anticoagulation in the North East, to help ease the burden on walk-in clinics and improve efficiency in the County Durham and Darlington region. In an effort to save patients and clinicians time, self-testing was introduced and a device was sent to patients to take their own blood tests – the results of which would be obtained via Inhealthcare, through either a smartphone app, online portal, or automated phone call.

Jamie closed the session by disclosing the powerful results of the anticoagulation self-testing tool: “As you can imagine from a patient’s perspective, it’s fantastic. It’s given them freedom and opportunities that they wouldn’t have had previously, this [is] one of the goals of digital health – to provide patients with different ways of interacting with their healthcare professionals.”

Watch the session in full via the video below: