Digital vital signs monitoring in care homes set to reduce burden on A&E

Inhealthcare's new vital signs monitoring service acts an early warning system

As winter bites care homes are coming under increased pressure to support the NHS by providing a layer of intermediate care that will help reduce the burden on acute hospital services.

Traditionally, however, care home residents experience 40-50% more emergency admissions and Accident & Emergency (A&E) attendances than the general population aged 75 and over, so any increased role has to be supported by improved patient management.

Care homes can play a central role in filling the intermediate care vacuum, but only if the staff have the correct knowledge and skills, services are connected to local primary care providers, and care is proactive

Under pressure staff, cost pressures and poor connectivity with primary care all contribute to a lack of pro-active symptom management. Simply monitoring residents’ blood pressure, weight and hydration levels, with information being fed directly into GP systems, will help maintain health and prevent escalation to more-specialist services. It will also be vital to the creation of additional intermediate care capacity.

Digital health specialist, Inhealthcare, believes its new vital signs monitoring service can reduce emergency admissions of care home residents by acting as an early warning system.

Its care home service includes measuring the residents’ weight, hydration, blood pressure, heart rate and SPO.

Inhealthcare’s Simon Jones said: “Care homes can play a central role in filling the intermediate care vacuum, but only if the staff have the correct knowledge and skills, services are connected to local primary care providers, and care is proactive. While many homes already monitor vital signs, few integrate information into the NHS – a central requirement if escalation to secondary care is to be avoided.”

Chief executive, Bryn Sage, has added: “The NHS has called for a clear strategy to free up hospital beds for those in need. Firstly by preventing avoidable hospital admissions and, secondly, by supporting timely hospital discharge. Our vital signs monitoring service can do this by bridging the gap between secondary and community care.”

Inhealthcare’s technology integrates patients’ data into GP systems, improving the co-ordination between care homes and the local NHS because results can be viewed by all departments. If readings fall outside of a patient’s normal range, the appropriate NHS team is alerted. This means changes in health are highlighted early on, reducing the likelihood of hospital admission. The service supports earlier hospital discharge because it gives clinicians the confidence that if the patient is discharged, their full needs will be being met with regular and close monitoring.

Inhealthcare’s new service builds on its proven success of digitising existing care pathways.

The NHS has known for a long time that care homes and the voluntary sector could expand out-of-hospital care delivery if they could be more effectively integrated into local health and social care economies

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT), one of the largest integrated acute and community services providers in England, adopted Inhealthcare technology to introduce an undernutrition monitoring service for elderly patients in 80 care homes.

Ian Dove, the trust’s business development manager, said: “The NHS has known for a long time that care homes and the voluntary sector could expand out-of-hospital care delivery if they could be more effectively integrated into local health and social care economies. The Inhealthcare platform provides the flexibility and interoperability we need to implement radically-new models of care.”

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