Mobile apps launched to empower patients with long-term conditions

Totally Health launches first of 38 long-term condition decision-making solutions

The PDAs will cover 38 of the most common long-term conditions

An innovative new app has been launched that will empower patients to take responsibility for their own health and help the NHS to tackle the growing cost of treating people with long-term conditions.

At last week’s NHS Healthcare Innovation Expo , Totally Health unveiled its new Patient Decision Aid (PDA) mobile applications for devices including Andriod, iPhone and other smartphones.

The system has been developed as part of the NHS Shared Decision Making programme and will eventually cover 38 different medical conditions, with 14 already live, including established kidney failure, AAA repair, osteoarthritis of the hip and knee and COPD modules.

A holistic, integrated care system that combines shared decision-making, telehealth and health coaching, and critically makes information, advice and support available to the patient whenever they need it, is key

At the centre of the initiative is the belief that patients and their clinicians bring equally valuable input to the table when patients reach a decision crossroads in their healthcare. While clinicians know about the options available such as medical or surgical interventions, patients know what they want from their treatment based on their particular circumstances, expectations and attitudes to risk.

Aimed at fulfilling the NHS pledge of ‘no decision about me, without me’, the various modules are designed to help patients understand and consider the pros and cons of possible options and to encourage communication between patients and healthcare professionals.

The PDAs feature evidence-based information, images, diagrams and animations, developed in conjunction with the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Evidence Centre. The information has been sourced and approved by leading medics across a number of specialist fields of medicine.

Speaking to BBH at last week’s conference, Wendy Norton, head of health coaching at Totally Health, said: “These PDAs have been designed to be used at the point where patients receive a diagnosis and need to make decisions on the treatment they receive, although they can be used at any stage and can be revisited at any point in a patient’s journey.

“It is about making sure that patients are informed about what their options are and what they can expect so that the outcome is the best it can be.”

There can be little doubt that improving the management of long-term conditions is one of the NHS’s biggest priorities

For example, patients using the PDA for osteoarthritis of the hip will go through a five-step process beginning with an introduction of the health problems and the risks and options. At each stage they will be given details of all pros and cons for each decision and at the end of the process will have details of the pathway that most suits them. At any of these stages, pages can be printed off or saved so the patient can discuss their decision with their GP or consultant.

If patients have any further questions, or need support, a team of health trainers is on hand. These qualified nurses have a minimum of five years in the medical industry and the majority have specialist knowledge of particular conditions, for example oncology or renal medicine. They can be contacted via a local-rate phone number and can offer more personalised support.

The PDAs were commissioned by NHS Midlands and East SHA cluster as part of the QIPP Right Care Shared Decision Making Programme alongside its own web-based IT platform which sits on the secure NHS N3 service. However, they can be used by any visitors to the NHS RightCare website.

Wendy Lawrence, chief executive of Totally Health, said: “There can be little doubt that improving the management of long-term conditions is one of the NHS’s biggest priorities. The impact on the health service, both in terms of cost and the ability to deliver quality care, is significant and demand is dramatically outstripping resource. The impact on the patient, however, is even more critical.

“To progress, we must transform how patients interact with their healthcare and redesign care pathways to put patients at the centre. Totally Health is very proud to be involved in the delivery of such an innovative programme like the Shared Decision Making programme which underpins the ‘no decision about me, without me’ commitment.”

The 37 PDAs will also be available as mobile applications by the end of this month, recognising a need for individuals to be able to access relevant information instantly following a diagnosis, travelling on their way home from an appointment, or while waiting to speak with their consultant.

Lawrence said: “Totally Health’s vision for the future of care delivery in and across the NHS, and in particular long-term conditions, is underpinned by the belief that patients, when properly supported, can be empowered to change unhelpful thinking patterns. A holistic, integrated care system that combines shared decision-making, telehealth and health coaching, and critically makes information, advice and support available to the patient whenever they need it, is key to that. This is why we see the mobile apps as another significant development in putting the patient at the centre of care delivery.”

Click here to visit the NHS RightCare website.

Companies