New initiative enables the continued support of children during COVID-19

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Tunstall Healthcare roll out digital health solution to support young people with eating disorders

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is using Tunstall's triagemanager and myMobile app to support young people with eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has partnered Tunstall Healthcare to support young people with eating disorders during the COVID-19 crisis.

The trust provides both physical and mental health services to children and adults and uses technology from Tunstall Healthcare to co-ordinate its Digital Health Service and offer treatment and support to children over the age of 11 with a range of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and restrictive eating disorder.

The normal care pathway offered by the trust includes children living with eating disorders attending a clinic to monitor their vital signs and symptoms.

The use of digital health technology to support patients is a key part of the novel coronavirus standard operating procedure

However, due to the restrictions in place during COVID-19 an alternative approach has been developed.

Tunstall Healthcare and the trust worked together to introduce remote health monitoring for patients, using the myMobile app and ICP ‘triagemanager’ software to enable clinicians to support patients in their own homes.

Patients use devices to take weekly readings of their vital signs including blood pressure, temperature and weight. They are also required to answer a range of symptom-related questions including whether they’ve experienced fainting episodes and the ability to stand from a squatting position.

Michele Boyce, service lead nurse at community interest company, Kernow Health, which supports primary care services in Cornwall, said: “The children we support are extremely vulnerable, and any delay or interruption to the treatment they receive could have serious implications for their recovery.

“Being able to deploy a solution so rapidly to enable us to continue helping them has been a real relief. It’s been amazing just how quickly we’ve been able to adapt.”

The new initiative has enabled the trust to collect patient data through the myMobile app, where any breaches of parameters set for individual patients raise an alert on the system.

Clinicians can log into a secure portal and ensure patients are prioritised according to the need for intervention.

Individual readings can also be viewed over time to monitor progress, with the standard monitoring period expected to be 26 weeks.

Although still in its infancy, the 32 existing caseload patients deemed to be at high risk have already been referred, and feedback from the clinicians involved has been extremely positive.

And, while outcomes are still being measured, it’s expected that hospital admissions will be reduced, early intervention will increase, self management will improve, and patients will benefit from better health and wellbeing.

Vicki Slade, digital health lead at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The use of digital health technology to support patients is a key part of the novel coronavirus standard operating procedure.

“We have been able to use a Quality Improvement approach so that we can collect and analyse data, to test change.

Technology-enabled care solutions can provide a robust platform for health and care delivery, ensuring children with eating disorders can be supported throughout the pandemic, but also providing an effective platform for future care delivery

“This has allowed us to introduce, develop and refine the service provided to this specific patient group.

“Early feedback from clinicians, patients and carers is positive and I hope we will be able to fully review towards the end of this year this new model of support.”

Gavin Bashar, UK managing director of Tunstall Healthcare, added: “Our collaboration has enabled the valuable work of safeguarding young people living with eating disorders to continue.

“Our myMobile app and ICP triagemanager enables close monitoring of vulnerable young people while reducing the need for face-to-face visits, therefore reducing the risk of cross infection.

“Technology-enabled care solutions can provide a robust platform for health and care delivery, ensuring children with eating disorders can be supported throughout the pandemic, but also providing an effective platform for future care delivery.”

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