While there have so far been many award-worthy solutions to support clinicians and back office staff featured in our Health Tech Awards 2021 finalists showcase, it’s now time to shine a light on some of the best innovations for patients.
In this section, we’ll learn about wearables, video consultations, triage tools, communications solutions, virtual visiting, and a review platform.
Find out more about our finalists in ‘Patient Facing Digital Solutions’, below…
Cala Trio has created an FDA-cleared, non-invasive, wearable solution for essential tremor. The personalised, data-driven therapy delivers on-demand treatment for each patient’s unique tremor. The simple, wrist-worn device is delivered directly to the home and calibrated based on each patient’s needs.
As a bioelectronic medicine company, Cala Health aims to ‘transform’ the standard of care for chronic diseases, beginning with essential tremor – a chronic nervous system disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking, most often in the hands. Through Cala Trio, the company’s flagship product, the company hopes to empower those living with the chronic movement disorder to take control of their health by providing a tailored treatment plan in a device that fits into the active lifestyle the patient. A wearable neuromodulation device, it utilises actionable insights to enable informed decision-making.
According to Cala Health, the ‘responsive and adaptive technology’ uses physiologically calibrated stimulation and sensors that enable remote monitoring of patients’ conditions. Cala Trio has electrodes on the inside of the wrist band, which deliver electrical stimulation to the median and radial nerves, desynchronising tremulous activity in the brain. The therapy is calibrated to each patient’s physiology, tapping into targeted electrical signals in the nervous system to deliver symptom relief. Designed as a discrete wristwatch-like wearable device, it can give patients flexibility and freedom with fewer daily disruptions.
Cala Health says its digitally-connected data tracking also provides physicians with actionable insights, while real-time, virtual, on-demand support and a patient portal can keep patients informed.
St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – Refero
For this entry, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (STHK) presents its use of Refero’s multi-party video consultation platform for around 60 of its services.
Refero provides STHK with a telehealth platform, so patients are digitally connected with clinicians, facilitating continual engagement via video consultation or messaging. Appointment administration time is reduced and family members, carers, interpreters or other clinicians can be included on a video consultation.
The trust piloted Refero’s telehealth and video consultation services initially with its Cancer Drains Outreach and Stroke Review services, so that clinicians could assess patients who were recovering at home remotely, via video. It found that the service increased efficiency of resources for both services and that, while the Drains Outreach service previously required specialist nurses to travel up to six hours a day to review patients’ drains and wounds, with Refero, the travelling time was radically reduced, freeing up time to prepare patients for discharge.
The trust has recorded that 100 per cent of its patients who had virtual appointments said this method is their preferred choice, while it also saw its did not attend (DNA) rates drop from around 25 per cent to just 10 per cent in its Stroke Review service.
As well as the predicted cost and logistical benefits, STHK has found additional insights into patient care. For example, sometimes the psychological effect of coming into hospital pushes blood pressure artificially high, meaning the trust’s medical team is more likely to get a real representation of a patient’s physiology when they are in their own home.
For those with complex care needs, like stroke patients and those recovering from major reconstructive cancer surgery, attending outpatient appointments can be a traumatic experience, so use of the solution can reduce travel concerns. The virtual consultation also enables clinicians to see patients in their home environments, gathering vital insight into how they are managing, while dieticians can assist with meal planning by looking through cupboards with patients and drawing up a diet together based on ‘what they have in.’ Therapists can also visit a patient’s home and carry out a ‘live’ walk through discussing, via video call ,what aids and assistance the patient will need when they return home from hospital.
In response to COVID, within a few weeks, the Refero telehealth and consultation service expanded from two to 40 services at STHK to benefit patients across a range of services, including Medicine for Older People Frailty Service, Speech and Language Therapy Service, Burns & Plastics, Breast Reconstruction Service, Gastroenterology, Liver Surveillance Service, Sexual Health Service and Palliative Care. Around 1,000 patients are now digitally connected with the trust’s clinicians to enable continual engagement via video consultation or messaging through a web portal, smartphone or tablet. New features include secure waiting room call functionality, screen-sharing capabilities during a call and post-call follow up questionnaires.
The recent introduction of multi-party consultations also allows its clinicians and patients to have video consultations for up to 50 participants. This has significantly reduced appointment administration time and supported the addition of family members, carers, interpreters or other clinicians on a patient’s video consultation.
Cheshire East Borough Council – MyCareView
The next entry in this category is based around use of MyCareView (MCV) – a ‘patient-first initiative’ available through NHS App or internet browsers. MCV is currently giving people in East Cheshire access to the healthcare services and data held about them in primary and secondary care. Patients can add information to their record, exercise control over how their information is shared, and use it as a secure communications tool.
MyCareView provides health and wellbeing resources from local and national sources in one place. The patient portal within this gives individuals, and their families or care network, direct access to information held about them in primary and secondary health care. The service gives patients the ability to communicate and share information securely with their chosen contacts or clinical teams from multiple organisations.
People in East Cheshire can register to access this service through their mobile and can add to their health record to start taking a more active role in their own care and health outcomes. User data can be entered manually, or by connecting up to 100 supported devices to upload measurements automatically, such as a Fitbit App or blood pressure monitors.
Integration with GP Practice software means that GPs and other care professionals at individual practices can view information uploaded by their patients – either as individual measurements or through a care plan that tracks over time. In East Cheshire, the patient record is available to practice staff directly in their EMIS system.
Through three years of direct public engagement – a series of surveys and workshops – the collaboration of health and social care organisations have achieved a fully scaled-up service. Secondary care appointments, test results, care planning, team-based messaging, symptom trackers, journals, consultations, questionnaires, allergies, prescriptions, links to forums, resources and more, are securely accessible for both patients and clinicians.
The MCV patient portal is also integrated with NHS App so individuals are able to access its services via a single ‘digital front door’ that is nationally mandated using NHS Login credentials, or directly through the PKB patient portal user interface that offers a choice of 20 languages. Integration with Synertec also means that patients can view letters through their portal account. By June 2021, there were 10,455 patients registered in the MyCareView Patient Portal.
EQL – Phio Access
EQL’s submission in contention for the award is Phio Access – a digital MSK triage solution. The triage support tool enables faster access to the right MSK care, for earlier intervention and improved health outcomes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it enabled patients to remotely triage at a time when traditional triage methods were restricted.
Suitable for all ages and multiple languages, the Phio Access innovation was mobilised to ease resource strain and help patients while GP surgeries were closed. It aims to assess muscle and joint injuries in minutes and allows patients remote access to an initial assessment anytime, anywhere.
The assessment process is underpinned by sophisticated algorithms and interactive AI, developed by senior clinical leadership, that guides users to the most appropriate pathway. The launch aimed to help the NHS to offer patient-facing solutions to MSK sufferers during lockdown and the app was made available to over 10 million people.
Patients can self-refer and register without needing a direct referral from a GP. A pilot with the Welsh Government and the NHS Wales COVID-19 Digital Solutions Fund saw Connect Health roll out the digital triage tool to support over 1,000 patients from two health boards. Of the 1,029 patients involved, 33 per cent self-referred without seeing any health professionals, while a further 26 per cent of patients were signposted to the app by the reception staff without needing to make a GP appointment. In addition, 59 per cent of the patients used the app without seeing a health professional first, which improved capacity management and led to cost savings.
Phio Access allowed MSK patients to complete a full assessment and can adapt to over 3,000 scenarios with powerful decision trees and prioritisation of patients based on clinical need. Of the 1,029 completed consultations 66 per cent required a routine physio appointment, while 20 per cent required urgent physio, and 2 per cent of cases were identified as requiring urgent medical attention. The 24-hour access to assessment meant that patients received access to the emergency care they needed, and patient care was not delayed by lengthy waiting lists or lack of access to services during lockdown.
Phio Access has received Class 1 medical device certification by the MHRA and clinical validation during the pilot showed 99.9 per cent agreement and accuracy. Benefits for patients included 41 per cent citing time-saving, 19 per cent saying saving money on travel costs to appointments, and 62 per cent saying convenience.
Alder Hey and Neolook
Alder Hey presents Neolook’s Screen2Screen Family solution in this category. The Screen2Screen Family project was implemented at Alder Hey Children’s hospital to help families in the neonatal unit throughout the pandemic. The patient facing digital solution allowed families to dial in to view babies on the neonatal unit when they were unable to visit in person due to restrictions.
The virtual visiting system, a collaboration project between Alder Hey hospital’s Innovation and Digital Teams and supplier Neolook, was accelerated during the pandemic, as staff in the neonatal department expressed concerns regarding families and neonatal babies having limited access to see each other and interact.
Alder Hey was the first NHS trust that the Screen2Screen solution from Neolook had been implemented in. This meant working together to ensure the system and processes met the requirements of the NHS, which are different in hospitals outside of the UK. Both technical and clinical changes have been suggested by staff and families trialling the solution to ensure it is suitable and the teams worked collaboratively to overcome challenges and ensure the solution was safe.
Screen2Screen Family provided parents and family members with 24/7 virtual access to baby at a time when this would have been impossible had it not been for the technology. It allows for controlled discussions of the baby and parents wellbeing via two-way video and audio from the nurses’ station and the parents’ phone. Outside of these controlled discussions, Screen2Screens also allows for independent ‘visits’ to take place without the need for interaction from the hospital side, once registered.
The trust has seen a positive impact on wellbeing of parents and family members, and allowed the capture and awareness of a parent’s mental health through the provision of a rating scale which can be fed back to nurses, highlight if a parent is struggling and allowing the team to assess whether the system is right for them.
Our final finalist in this section is Doctify, which focuses on improving patient care through the digital transformation of patient feedback. The company says that patient feedback allows healthcare providers to better understand and improve on the patient experience. Its review platform makes it easy for patients to leave and read reviews, and gives providers an efficient way of getting the feedback required for a patient-centric service.
Doctify is a healthcare review platform that was co-founded by two NHS surgeons in 2016. Its aim is for every patient, wherever they are in the world, to be able to read reviews and recommendations for hospitals and doctors so that they can access the best specialists. It hopes to support healthcare providers across the globe in giving patients a voice and collecting feedback that they need to understand and learn from their patients’ experiences.
The company cites ad-hoc collection of feedback, often through paper forms, and delayed replies being sent through the post as issues facing healthcare providers. This lapse in time, it says, often leads to low engagement and low response quality, while healthcare providers were also often unable to respond or acknowledge a patient’s experience.
Doctify aims to transform the healthcare review process, making it easier and more effective. When healthcare providers sign up, their patients get automated feedback requests after appointments. Doctify feedback tablets and QR codes can also be used to collect online reviews. Once reviews are submitted, they are verified and vetted to ensure that they are real, reliable and representative – a process that takes between 24 and 48 hours. Patients are sent a confirmation that their feedback has been submitted and they can see their reviews on the Doctify platform. From their dashboard, healthcare providers can also respond to reviews.
Every healthcare provider subscribed to Doctify also has access to a Doctify Insights and Analytics Suite. This houses all of their review data, filterable by star rating, date and keywords. The dashboard reduces the time and resources previously associated with collating and reviewing feedback. It enables healthcare providers to easily analyse reviews, view trend data and gain actionable insights. They are able to better recognise where to focus their efforts. The real-time reviews also enable providers to monitor and track any service improvements that they make.
Doctify was also built to address issues faced by patients looking for healthcare, with the ultimate goal of improving the care that they go on to receive. It is constructed so that patients can easily find and access the very best specialists, through free access to the platform, where the company houses all the verified reviews collected by healthcare providers that subscribe. Patients can search by location, condition and procedure to find suitable hospitals, clinics and doctors, and then look at the number of reviews they have received, their overall star rating for bedside manner and explanations. They can also look through the personalised written feedback left by other patients, find out healthcare professionals’ experience, qualifications and specialisms, along with details on pricing, opening hours and locations.