Barts Health implements new app to support people with cognitive impairment

Barts Health NHS Trust, UCLPartners and Maldaba have rolled-out a new app to support people with cognitive impairment, specifically adults with a learning disability.

The ‘Hear Me Now’ app and content-sharing remote service can be used to record information such as text, photo, audio, or video which is then stored in ‘boxes’ in the app. This information can then be shared with healthcare staff and carers, either in person or by using the sharing platform within the app.

Between May 2019 and January 2021, a pilot of the app was conducted at the Royal London Hospital. It was used to support 40 patients with learning disabilities, and found improvements in quality of care, helping to understand an individual’s needs, and improving contact and communication.

After 12 months of using the app, through a survey, 26/30 found the app helpful and easy to use and nearly two thirds agreed it helped communication at healthcare appointments.

Dr Richard Fitzgerald, Academic Clinical Fellow in Special Care Dentistry at Barts Health, commented: “It was quite clear through the interviews with participants and their families that the Hear Me Now app was well-liked and effective. One of the most interesting findings for me were that family members reported a feeling of reassurance that all medical information was in one place if it was needed for emergencies. Alongside this it was interesting to see that the self-reported use of the app was high, suggesting that worries about digital literacy in this population may be unfounded.”

Lorenzo Gordon, Co-founder of Maldaba, the solution provider who have created Hear Me Now, added: “This research at Barts Health NHS Trust has helped show that Hear Me Now is easy to use and improves communications between patients and professionals across sectors and parts of the health and care system. We are looking forward to using the insight gained from this project to develop Hear Me Now further and to work with other NHS partners to enable new ways of delivering support within the healthcare system for people with learning disabilities.”

Maldaba now plans to conduct an evaluation project for the app with North East London NHS Foundation Trust and NHS trusts in the South West, to explore how it can improve the take up and quality of the annual health checks for people with learning disabilities.