Feature by Bryn Sage, CEO, Inhealthcare
Some patients like remote monitoring because it makes them feel reassured about their NHS care. Others enjoy the freedom of being able to live independently with long-term health conditions. For Gurmit Bhamra, who joined Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership’s new service for patients to manage high blood pressure at home, there are a multitude of reasons.
Mr Bhamra said: “Joining the BP@Home service has been very helpful to me. It means I can monitor my blood pressure without having to go to see my GP every two or three days and I have become more aware of what the blood pressure readings mean. As a result of monitoring my results, my medication has been changed and I have made lifestyle changes to help manage my blood pressure better.
“I have been doing regular exercises at home and I am eating less – especially in the evenings. These small changes are already helping me to feel in control and have had a positive effect on reducing my blood pressure. I feel supported and encouraged to make the right decisions and I know that there’s help at the end of the phone if I need it.”
More and more patients like Mr Bhamra are signing up for NHS remote monitoring – and more than one million have used Inhealthcare’s services since the start of the pandemic. Surrey Heartlands used our software to roll out the Oximetry at Home remote monitoring service for COVID patients early on in the pandemic.
The ICS extended the service to deliver remote monitoring of hypertensive patients last year with support from NHSX. Clinicians anticipate it will improve health outcomes for patients and create valuable capacity within the NHS by helping people to manage their conditions, reduce their blood pressure and save millions of pounds in reduced use of NHS services.
Using a simple device provided by the NHS, patients record their blood pressure and heart rate readings on a twice-daily basis. Patients submit these for clinical review via a choice of communication channels including email, SMS text message, app or phone, making the service fully inclusive – and capable of delivering remote monitoring at a population level.
After years of laying the foundations for remote monitoring with NHS partners across the UK, we expect 2022 to be transformational for the expansion of the technology-enabled care services. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has promised new health and social care funding “will enable radical innovation to improve the speed and quality of care, including… new digital technology so doctors can monitor patients remotely in their homes”.
In her landmark report, ‘Putting data, digital and tech at the heart of transforming the NHS’, Laura Wade-Gery urged the NHS to be bolder in stating the health and care system should empower citizens to manage their health and wellbeing and give them the tools to take ownership. The former Tesco and M&S director called for care pathways to be centred around patients rather than settings and said citizens should have a choice between remote and face-to-face services.
With the number of people in England waiting for planned care forecast to hit a staggering 13 million in the coming years, the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee, chaired by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, said the NHS has a big opportunity to change ways of delivering care that are no longer fit for purpose and build on the new integrated, safe and effective models that emerged during the pandemic. “For the good of patients, staff and the public this opportunity must not be wasted,” concluded the committee’s report, ‘Clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic’.
NHS England has told healthcare providers to use the lessons learned during the pandemic and “rapidly and consistently” adopt new models of care that exploit the full potential of digital technologies. Chief executive Amanda Pritchard said systems must “fully exploit remote monitoring technology and wider digital platforms to deliver effective and efficient care”.
The extra cash announced by the Prime Minister includes £250m this financial year for an elective recovery tech fund to help Integrated Care Systems transform care pathways with the support of innovative digital technologies. NHSX has published a list of digital products that can assist with elective recovery and, in this special feature for HTN readers, we explain how Inhealthcare can help ICSs to reduce long waits for tests and treatments for patients and deliver on the government’s ambition to “build back better”.
- Early discharge and home rehabilitation: Inhealthcare has connected care home residents across London and the North East to their family doctors. The service helps clinicians to identify any patients at risk of developing health problems and intervene early with treatment. It aims to keep vulnerable residents safe and well in their homes and prevent avoidable hospital admissions and readmissions. Importantly, the service can ease delays in transfers of care by enabling people to be monitored in the comfort of their own home rather than in a hospital ward.
- Home-based pre-surgical support: Inhealthcare has partnered with Olympus to help patients awaiting endoscopy procedures and increase NHS diagnostic capacity. The service aims to improve health outcomes, reduce missed appointments and ease the strain on overstretched hospitals by digitising the patient journey from referral through to post procedure patient feedback. Dr John Greenaway, a consultant gastroenterologist at The James Cook University Hospital, said: “The service empowers patients with improved communications and helps them overcome any fears they might have ahead of their procedures.”
- Productivity benefits: Inhealthcare has rolled out digital services to help NHS organisations deliver enhanced immunisation schedules and free up employees from labour intensive paper-based procedures which require significant staff time and resources. Improvements include reduced risk, enhanced accuracy and reliability of data and many thousands of hours saved in administrative tasks.
- Patient portal and record-sharing: Inhealthcare last year completed the integration of its technology platform with NHS login, making it even quicker and easier for patients to use its digital health services. It also completed its integration with the Message Exchange for Social Care and Health (MESH), the secure large file transfer service used across health and social care organisations.
- Real time operational data or population health management tool: Inhealthcare is helping providers and commissioners to analyse near real-time NHS data about patients and pathways to boost operational and strategic decision-making. The company has built a ‘data lake’ to enable new views into the growing amounts of data generated by NHS remote patient monitoring services.
- Robotic process automation: Inhealthcare’s toolkit allows clinicians to design and deliver new care pathways using cutting-edge processes commonly deployed in global industries like advanced manufacturing and financial services. This ability enables NHS organisations to model, execute, monitor, measure, analyse and improve their health and care services.
- Streamline elective administrative processes: Inhealthcare has launched a self-referral programme for people with musculoskeletal conditions. It is believed to be the first digital health service in UK that uses the Spine national IT infrastructure to allow patients to self-refer onto a local NHS service. The use of the NHS Spine verifies patient identity and validates entitlement to the service.
- Support people at home: Inhealthcare has driven the expansion of a breakthrough programme for the remote monitoring of people with confirmed or suspected COVID. The company is helping to deploy Oximetry@Home across the UK, making it widely available to patients in primary and community care settings and helping to reduce mortality, length of stay, intensive care admissions and readmissions. The underlying technology is being repurposed by resourceful staff to support people with other conditions including hypertension, heart failure and respiratory diseases.
- Remote consultations: Inhealthcare is powering a digital clinic designed by its NHS partner Health Call Solutions to connect clinicians with patients at home and minimise the need to attend hospital appointments in person during the pandemic. The video conferencing service provides an all-encompassing approach to help hospitals build capacity and meet outpatient demand, catching up on the growing backlog of cancelled or delayed appointments. It integrates directly with hospital patient administration systems and books appointments, delivers reminders, records attendances, distributes and gathers patient questionnaires and shares outcome forms with electronic patient records.
In the words of Surrey Heartlands patient Gurmit Bhamra, citizens using our NHS remote monitoring services feel supported and encouraged to make the right decisions and know there is help at the end of the phone if they need it.
Clinicians are also voicing their support. Dr Jagjit Rai, partner at a family practice in Stanwell, said: “We have demonstrated that patients are happy to monitor their conditions from home, and when they do, they not only develop a better understanding of their condition, but feel empowered to manage it better through remembering to take their medication and making lifestyle choices. This will lead to better preventative care for our patients, and also reduce the burden on GP practices as we will receive the patient’s results electronically rather than having to see them each time. This should result in better health for our patients, fewer patients needing emergency care, and it frees up valuable appointments for more acute patients.”
If you would like to find out more, give us a call or drop us a line at Inhealthcare in Harrogate, North Yorkshire via 01423 510 520 or firstname.lastname@example.org
* Bryn Sage is Chief Executive of Inhealthcare