Feature: Medicines, sickle cell, blood pressure, respiratory conditions and COPD remote monitoring

This time last year, HTN discussed the rapid rise of remote monitoring, reflecting on the surge of adoption of technologies that had allowed patients to be monitored at home, or outside of traditional hospital settings, during the early waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.

Although the innovations and ideas were not necessarily all new, the wide-scale utilisation illustrated both the potential of home and community health monitoring for a range of conditions and scenarios beyond COVID, as well as the prospective pitfalls of rapidly adopting ‘hybrid’ digital health, as considered by a dedicated House of Lords committee session.

Nevertheless, remote monitoring technologies have continued to hit the headlines and allow the healthcare system to work in different ways, as pressures on time, space, staff and beds have increased, with much focus placed on using tech and digital mitigations to tackle the NHS elective care backlog and winter challenges.

For example, at the close of 2021, NHS England released its operational guidance for the next 12 months, including a dedicated section on digital priorities for 2022/23. HTN honed in on the tech aspects of the document, which included an emphasis on expanding the use of ‘virtual wards’, as a way to ease the strain on acute beds by providing alternatives to hospital admission and helping to support earlier discharge.

According to the document, there are currently 53 existing virtual wards providing over 2,500 beds nationwide, and the organisational aim is to have 40–50 virtual wards in operation per 100,000 of the population by December 2023, a prospective roll-out which is expected to harness the use of remote technologies, with significant funding available to support these plans. The move indicates that there’s real momentum in the health service, in regards to using a digital and tech toolkit to care for patients virtually and remotely, and it looks set to continue in the years to come.

While looking forward, it’s also important to cast an eye back over other recent remote monitoring developments that have made a difference this year. Once again, there has been a remote monitoring focus in our HTN Awards 2022, which sees industry and NHS teams submit their work from the past 12 months.

In our dedicated category for remote monitoring achievements, from which you’ll soon find out more about the finalists and overall winner as we build up to the awards evening on 20 January 2021, we’ll showcase a snapshot of the projects that are now being undertaken in this area of healthcare.

Submissions we’ve received include work and programmes around the management and monitoring of medicines, sickle cell, blood pressure, respiratory conditions and COPD, training for video group clinics, care home appointments, and cardiology post-op patient follow-ups – illustrating the shift towards using the technologies for preventative care and self-management.

This has also been widely reflected in some of the news stories we’ve shared with you over the last 12 months, too. From the trial of a self-testing and care tool to monitor stroke patients at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, and a home blood pressure monitoring roll-out by Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group, through to an app for heart failure patients in Salford and work by researchers at the University of Leeds to develop and trial a remote monitoring system for early-stage cancer patients to report their symptoms, we’ve seen plenty of innovation.

There’s also been recognition in terms of funding too, with NHSX launching a £3 million programme to support selected cardiac networks to implement remote monitoring in surgical pathways.

Remote monitoring techniques has even seen existing technology adapted to support remote clinical trials by University Hospital Southampton researchers. While apps have also expanded to include more holistic functionalities – such as the diabetes app being piloted by Central and North West London NHS FT and North Central London Clinical Commissioning Group, which not only provides clinical teams with patient data, reports and information from tools such as Bluetooth blood glucose monitors, but also gives users access to expert advice, education, nutritional guidance and exercise programmes.

But what’s next? There are promising projects taking places across the country, as shown by the breadth of work reported and showcased above, which represents a fraction of what’s taking place.

Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), which acts as a regional arm of innovation for the NHS, in particular has been sharing updates on its ongoing work in this area.

The AHSN recently shared the results of its remote monitoring pilot programmes for TytoCare, which are being rolled-out across the region, through funding from NHSX and partnerships with other local organisations such as the West Yorkshire & Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (ICS) and Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership.

The TytoCare digital health solution is a wireless handheld device that allows patients and/or their families and carers the ability to perform ear, throat, lungs, heart, temperature, skin and abdomen examinations, at any time and in any location. The examinations can be done live and online with clinicians, or recorded and uploaded to a secure platform for review at a later date.

According to Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, TytoCare can be used to diagnose conditions such as colds and flus, ear infections and bronchitis, and additionally used to manage chronic conditions like COPD, asthma, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and diabetes. There are two versions of the device – one for clinicians (TytoPro) and one for use by patients (TytoCare) – and the AHSN is currently providing the technology to 14 different trusts through 26 projects, including at children’s hospitals, emergency departments, care homes and GP practices.

Current live pilot sites include:

  • Use by Affinity Care (South) Primary Care Network in Bradford to conduct observations and virtual consultations for house-bound patients.
  • Leeds Children’s Hospital’s cleft lip and palate service’s trial with babies and their families, allowing nurses to conduct home visits and send high-quality images to surgeons for reviews and operation planning.
  • Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust’s Home Ventilation Virtual Clinic is using the technology for community visits and online remote consultations and examinations.
  • A trial to provide early interventions and reduce emergency care for children with chronic respiratory conditions at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, who are also using the tech’s virtual consultation capabilities both online and offline in the Emergency Department, and for a Paediatric cross-site project to avoid moving patients between settings.
  • Projects at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, such as an Elderly Medicine Virtual Hub, support for a children’s acute community care service, and a device pilot extension for 17 children with respiratory conditions.
  • GP support for patients and consultations with the Digital Care Hub team for care homes through Airedale NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Paediatric respiratory services at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust will work with respiratory and asthma patients to record examinations when they have an acute episode, to be used in future patient reviews.
  • Trials at North Lincolnshire and Goole (NLAG) NHS Foundation Trust involving virtual consultations and remote examinations from the paediatric clinical team, and a new service for managing paediatric emergency referrals.

Yorkshire & Humber AHSN also recently released more news on its blueprint for future healthcare delivery, following a visit by NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Matt Whitty and Dr Tim Ferris, as well as other NHS guests, at which the AHSN platformed some of the life sciences work taking place in the region.

This again included a focus on remote monitoring technologies, as part of interlinked aims to use digital health innovation to reduce the pressure on staff, address health inequalities, create jobs and tackle the NHS carbon footprint. The AHSN stated that, ‘more patients are avoiding unnecessary hospital visits thanks to new technology that enables them to self-monitor their health conditions at home’ and ‘staff resource is being used more effectively thanks to the capabilities of new products and applications that allows for non-urgent medical examinations and consultations to be done remotely’.

As well as the aforementioned, some of the other innovations on show for the NHS England and Improvement guests included:

  •, a kidney home-testing kit and smartphone app for people with Type 1 diabetes, which aims to help people manage the condition and reduce their risk of chronic kidney disease. The AHSN rolled out the product in Leeds and now plans to support further roll-outs of the home testing kits across West Yorkshire.
  • PinPoint, an artificial intelligence cancer detection test and clinical decision support tool that allows clinicians to ‘red flag’ high-risk patients, as part of an ongoing collaboration between the AHSN Pinpoint Data Science, the University of Leeds and the NHS.

At HTN, this year we’ll continue to share remote monitoring innovations and news from across the UK and beyond, through a range of content types, including features from health tech experts, and live webcasts on the topic through our live event series, HTN Now.

For more reading on remote monitoring, visit our dedicated channel on the topic. You can also catch up on last year’s video presentation about the real-world impacts of remote monitoring by Jamie Innes, Product Director at Inhealthcare.

If you’d like to share any of your remote monitoring programmes or news with us, email