Virtual ward technology enables early intervention while patients recover at home
Inhealthcare is helping Sirona Care & Health to rapidly scale up home-based NHS care for vulnerable people diagnosed with COVID.
Sirona, which provides adult and children’s NHS and local authority-funded community services, is providing the optional ‘virtual ward’ service for people in high-risk groups across Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire.
The technology, which has supported more than 3,500 people since its launch, safely and securely connects people with clinicians and enables early intervention if there are any signs of health deterioration.
It is designed to identify cases of ‘silent hypoxia’, where people have low oxygen levels but not significant shortness of breath.
Using the system, people take a pulse oximeter reading to monitor their oxygen saturation levels and report these readings to healthcare teams via a choice of communication channels including email, SMS text message, or automated telephone call, making the service fully inclusive.
And this monitoring ensures individuals receive more-timely hospital treatment if required.
The new service provides peace of mind for people because they know they are being looked after and it saves valuable time for our clinical teams so they can focus on vulnerable people who need the most care
Staff view individual readings on a web-based dashboard and receive alerts flagging those who need support or have not submitted their readings.
Jen Tomkinson, head of specialist services at Sirona, said: “This new service with Inhealthcare has allowed us to support a large number of people with COVID at home.
“We believe that being able to monitor people remotely can make a big difference to health outcomes.
“It would be impossible to provide home-based care to such large numbers of people in our communities without Inhealthcare’s digital and data capabilities.
“The new service provides peace of mind for people because they know they are being looked after and it saves valuable time for our clinical teams so they can focus on vulnerable people who need the most care.”
At the end of last year Sirona, working with North Bristol NHS Trust, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston, and Inhealthcare, widened the offer to include the previously-non-digital COVID ‘virtual ward’ for those who were medically well enough to be discharged.
Clear pathways to escalate back to hospital were established and this service was the first of its kind in the South West.
This service demonstrates our approach in action – the rapid rollout of a scalable digital health service to support individuals at home and help improve health outcomes
Rebecca Winterborn, clinical lead for NBT Hospital at Home service and a clinical lead for NHS@Home South West, said “We were determined to ensure equity of access for all in our communities and the ongoing collaboration is leading to more pathways being developed as an Integrated Care System.”
Inhealthcare supplies regular data reports for clinicians, illustrating the number of people on the service and their progress through the pathway.
And early research funded by NHSX shows this model of care has reduced mortality, length of hospital stay, intensive care admissions, and re-admissions.
Bryn Sage, chief executive of Inhealthcare, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Sirona Care & Health to drive innovation in healthcare during the pandemic.
“This service demonstrates our approach in action – the rapid rollout of a scalable digital health service to support individuals at home and help improve health outcomes.
“While this service is for COVID, it can easily be broadened to a diverse range of long-term conditions.”