Exploring the World of Assistive Technology
Date: Thursday 19 August 2021
Across the UK, the health and social care system has adapted rapidly to Covid-19-related restrictions placed on physical contact between service users and staff. Whilst many patient-facing services will no doubt revert to previous ways-of-working in the future, one area that may reap the long-term benefits of this period of enforced technological change is remote monitoring systems in social care settings.
Remote monitoring is of particular interest to the adult social care sector. Older adults are more at risk of issues requiring clinical intervention, but often have difficulties accessing care in mainstream medical hubs, such as hospitals or GP surgeries. As well as the distress and practical challenges of transporting people who often have significantly impaired mobility and frailty, avoiding visits to these settings also serves to reduce infection risks.
With work already well underway in this area being joined by a slew of new projects responding to Covid-19, an evidence base is slowly emerging about the effectiveness and financial viability of remote monitoring interventions.
In partnership with the seven regions of the NHS in England, NHSX is pioneering a new National Innovation Collaborative, and all of London’s sustainability and transformation partnerships have committed to work collaboratively to support the increased use of remote monitoring technology in care homes. As part of this, through this NHSX Innovation Collaborative commission and the London Digital First Programme, the Health Innovation Network (HIN) has begun to review and summarise research focused on this topic. With only one relevant published study and eight case studies or evaluations being found, it is clear that there is little published evidence in this area, highlighting the importance of the Innovation Collaborative and all its outputs.
In addition to an evidence summary, the rapid review included a market comparison of available solutions and their spread across London, summarising 19 providers who have a product that can be used to monitor care home residents’ basic vital signs to help with care decisions. While this project is aimed at highlighting the benefits of remote monitoring solutions for the residents and patients of care homes, primary care and wider multi-disciplinary teams and not the products specifically, it was important to understand the products that are currently in use in London as this is an ever-changing landscape with new suppliers continually entering the market.
Some of the highlighted interventions included Docobo, a digital remote monitoring system and case management solution for patients under care at home or care homes. Docobo or [email protected] has been deployed across the UK (Bexley, Newham, West Yorkshire, Liverpool, Kent, Lancashire). An 8-month pilot in Sussex Community Trust has shown a 75% reduction in admissions compared to the same period in the previous year.
Another example came in the form of Whzan, a telehealth system for care homes. Whzan has also been used across a number of locations. Evaluation of the use the tool across eight care homes in Sunderland showed an estimated yearly saving of £756,144 due to reductions in A&E attendances.
Sherwood Grange Care Home in Kingston, South West London is one of those that has implemented Whzan. Its Registered Home Manager Rick Mayne, said:
‘Whzan has been a game-changer for us. The data helps set a baseline for each resident and uses a traffic light system to alert us if their observations are worse than the average normal. This allows me to ring our GP or out of hours doctor and have a more informed discussion with them over the phone so they can create a more individualised care plan, having a multidisciplinary approach. I genuinely believe this has helped keep our residents safe and well at home during the pandemic, only going to the hospital when absolutely necessary.’
The Innovation Collaborative will run into 2021, with both national and local learning and sharing workshops to support project teams. The HIN will be leading on local events, the curation of case studies and finally the dissemination of learning across multiple channels across London.
Contact Digital Social Care to learn more about technologies in adult social care.Back to News
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