Mobile and web-based technology helps patients to manage long-term conditions
O2 Health has launched a new solution aimed at helping patients with long-term conditions to feel more in control of their wellbeing and enabling clinicians to take a more tailored approach to individual needs.
Health at Home is a telehealth service using mobile and web-based technology that includes a secure software platform for healthcare professionals to remotely monitor their patients’ health, and a range of everyday mobile devices that patients can use to monitor their symptoms.
Available on a wide range of computers, tablets and smartphones, Health at Home is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing IT systems and equipment within healthcare organisations. It allows healthcare professionals to monitor patients’ readings, set bespoke symptom surveys, provide educational materials, and communicate with them directly.
Health at Home uses everyday consumer technology that patients and healthcare professionals will find easy to use, whereas previously telehealth has struggled to find its feet due to often complex and confusing systems foreign to both patients and healthcare professionals alike
Patients are provided with a tablet computer which is connected to the mobile network and preloaded with software. They are also given relevant smart monitoring devices including pulse oximeters, weighing scales and blood pressure monitors.
Patients take regular readings from the smart devices which are sent via Bluetooth directly to the tablet and then, with a touch of a button, the information is sent securely to the O2 Health server. Healthcare workers then monitor the readings and can take action if appropriate. All information given is also geographically represented, helping staff to monitor trends and set appropriate personalised care plans according to the data. Patients are also able to track their own symptoms and readings to learn more about their condition and how to manage it.
Using mobile technology means patients are not confined to their homes.
The system has been trialled by NHS Lothian and North Somerset Community Partnerships, where early findings show the average length of hospital stay has decreased by 59% among a small group of patients with COPD.
Nikki Flanders, O2 Health managing director, said: “Mobile technology is just a part of our lives today – we shop, bank, work, communicate and are entertained through smartphones and tablets, so using this kind of technology to monitor our health is a natural evolution. The beauty of Health at Home is its flexibility and accessibility, for all parties, from the patients through to their healthcare worker and the healthcare service in its entirety.
“Health at Home uses everyday consumer technology that patients and healthcare professionals will find easy to use, whereas previously telehealth has struggled to find its feet due to often complex and confusing systems foreign to both patients and healthcare professionals alike. Similarly, as Health at Home is web-based, it works with existing systems, so major investment in infrastructure and the disruption this can cause is just not an issue.”
As a result of Health at Home, patients have been able to learn to self manage their conditions and get the help they need earlier while also avoiding potentially unnecessary hospital admissions
Currently, long-term conditions in the UK account for 70% of the primary and secondary care budget, with the number of people with at least one medical problem expected to rise by 23% over the next 25 years as the population ages.
In north Somerset, Health at Home has been used to monitor COPD patients. One of the nurses involved in the project said: “It helped us to identify early warning signs that a patient’s condition was worsening. For example, we noticed that one of our patients always got a migraine two days before she deteriorated. We can now intervene more quickly, which means patients receive treatment promptly. We’ve avoided a number of hospital admissions.”
Feedback from patients has also been positive. One said: “If I get up and don’t feel well I do my measurements and they often confirm that I need to start taking antibiotics, so I don’t have to contact the nurse or doctor.”
NHS Lothian has seen similar positive results. Dr John Steyn, clinical e-Health adviser at the health board, said: “We’ve been using Health at Home to monitor patients with heart failure and COPD. The patients use their mobile devices to answer daily questionnaires and to submit readings and the information goes to a specialist call centre. If a patient’s condition triggers a defined alert, a clinician is informed, who can then review their treatment. As a result, patients have been able to learn to self manage their conditions and get the help they need earlier while also avoiding potentially unnecessary hospital admissions.”