Health tech assessment recommends virtual ward technologies for acute respiratory infections

The Health Technology Assessment Innovation Laboratory programme at NICE has conducted an early value assessment to support and inform the expansion of virtual ward provision and other intermediate care areas.

The draft guidance highlights recommendations on virtual ward technologies for monitoring patients with an acute respiratory infection (ARI) from their own homes, “using technology platforms that will feedback vital information on their condition to clinical staff”.

Comprising of three parts, a patient-facing app or website, associated wearable medical devices and a digital platform for healthcare professionals, 13 technologies were part of the review, with 11 currently used in the NHS.

An independent NICE committee noted that using virtual ward platform technologies such as a patient-facing app or wearable devices, could allow a patient’s temperature, heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and respiratory rate to be “monitored and fed back to healthcare professionals, often automatically”.

A consultation on the draft recommendations is available to view at, with a deadline of 1 September 2023 to provide comments.

The suppliers in the early value assessment guidance, include:

  • Current Health
  • Doccla
  • Docobo
  • Feebris
  • Huma
  • Inhealthcare
  • Lenus Health
  • Luscii Healthtech
  • MediBioSense Ltd
  • PMD Solutions
  • Solcom
  • Spirit Health
  • Virtual Ward Technologies Ltd

Mark Chapman, interim director of medical technology and digital evaluation at NICE, commented: “The NHS is under pressure and giving people with an acute respiratory infection the chance to be monitored from the safety of their own home or care home can help manage capacity in hospitals. Evidence shows virtual wards are safe and can be an option for those who are comfortable using technology to have their condition monitored away from a hospital ward.”

The independent committee considered evidence demonstrating similar outcomes for patients treated in a virtual ward to those treated in hospital, as well as that patients were often “comfortable” using the technology in the management of their care. Evidence was also presented of potential cost savings, including around £872 per patient compared with inpatient care, and £115 per patient compared with care at home without the virtual ward technology.

In related news, NICE announced three work-streams to help deliver 40-50 virtual ward beds safely and sustainably per 100,000 population.

Recently, for our panel discussion on virtual care and patient flow, we spoke with Dr Penny Kechagioglou, Lee Rickles and Paul Deffley on the use of virtual clinics, remote appointments and patient monitoring, and how this could help to ease pressures and improve outcomes for patients.