Health Service Focus

16.12.16

Joining up care in Sunderland

Source: NHE Nov/Dec 16

Paul Gibson, interim programme manager at Sunderland CCG, explains how a new care home tablet is helping transform the way that healthcare professionals are spotting early signs of illness.

As NHE went to press, the successful roll-out of a new technology, which uses universal medical assessments to track the health and wellbeing of older people, was being completed in Sunderland. 

The project, which is being led by Sunderland CCG, is part of the All Together Better vanguard. One key aim of the new care model is to reduce frequent hospitalisations, allowing care teams to monitor people they look after more closely, and ensure that the right support is given quickly to prevent people’s conditions from escalating. 

In what is thought to be a UK first, the NEWS (National Early Warning Score) system – which includes a medical assessment that is used by GPs, ambulance crews and hospitals to flag up potentially serious health problems – has been added to tablet technology that tracks and shares information about people’s health conditions with the professionals who care for them. 

The new system, developed with Solcom, using the company’s telehealth technology Whzan, makes use of digital care home technology used across the city. 

By using a co-productive team, Sunderland CCG’s interim programme manager Paul Gibson said it has been able to build a tool that can be used by care home staff to help them monitor the health of their residents. Once the data is submitted it then allows healthcare professionals to make assessments based on the information collected over a long period of time. 

“The benefits are pretty straightforward,” said Gibson. “It takes a while to collate all the statistics to get a true impact on unplanned admissions, but the care home staff are a lot more confident now in having dialogue with clinical teams because, for example, they have the facts and figures there and can explain that someone’s blood pressure is reducing.” 

Coupled with other information, like nutrition plans and pain scores, data is pooled together to give a full overview of a person’s health at any given moment in time. The CCG is also looking at further tools which include hydration and falls. 

“They [the care home staff] now have some structure to have a conversation [with their health colleagues] because of the different scoring systems being standardised across the whole of the patch, so it is a common discussion,” said Gibson. 

He added that the project has gone well, and a major factor in its success was early dialogue with the care homes. 

“Initially there was apprehension from staff, because they were not used to collecting all the vital signs,” explained Gibson. “But because there has been a lot of wrap-around with regards to change management it is proving really valuable. The key thing was having a dialogue with the senior nursing teams.” 

As well as clinicians and commissioners working with care homes, Gibson noted that collaborating with Solcom, which is new to the health sector, has been refreshing “as they were not blighted by the issues around healthcare development in technology”. 

“We are going to continue working with Whzan tablets, and we are looking to put that into a shared care record that we are looking to develop,” he said. “There is no point in having all these separate pots of data. Our challenge is creating a shared record, but making sure there isn’t a separate silo for this Technology Enabled Care Services data – it needs to be integrated into that record.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Dan David   19/12/2016 at 18:21

This is a great clinical innovation, shame it's based on an expensive standalone platform that overcharges for kit!

Keith Chessell   21/12/2016 at 09:30

It actually the complete opposite Dan, the inclusive price of the kit consisting of an 8” 4G tablet, health application, wireless instruments including BP monitor, Pulse Ox, Thermometer, customised case with cleanable insert, extension battery for a whole day’s roaming operation and annual monitoring charges for 50 patients is less than many smartphone contracts. The platform is on the Microsoft Azure cloud, there are no limits or additional charges to the number of clinical users, each patient can have their own private portal and we can share the data on to any third-party system required. Users get access to new features, share documentation, can suggest/partner further development (there are plenty in the pipeline) and have office hours support. Again no extra charges.

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