Patients with an acute respiratory infection are set to benefit from more convenient healthcare after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended virtual ward technology in new draft guidance.
By using the technology, clinicians will be able to monitor a patient’s oxygen saturation, heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and respiratory rate.
A NICE committee were presented with evidence that health outcomes from patients treated in a virtual ward setting are comparable to those who underwent traditional care.
This was alongside a general confidence from service-users when healthcare professionals had trained them to use the technology.
Although more robust data needs to be collected before a full analysis can be completed, preliminary findings indicate that the NHS could stand to save £872 per person compared to inpatient care by using the technology.
This is alongside a smaller saving of £115 per person when people are cared for at home but without the technology.
While the news was welcome, NHS Employers’ chief executive, Danny Mortimer, sounded caution around how quickly virtual wards can be deployed considering the workforce gap the health service is currently working under.
He said: “The continued short term backdrop of workforce shortages is a limiting factor as is the need to address the long standing challenges facing social care capacity. We reiterate in particular our call for a comprehensive workforce plan for social care."
NICE has launched a consultation on the guidance which will be open until the 1st of September.
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