Inhealthcare service reduced demand on hospitals, GPs, and NHS 111
Remote monitoring provided ‘a safe and effective route’ to manage COVID patients at home, minimised contact for positive cases, and significantly reduced demand on alternative services, an NHS evaluation has found.
Sussex Health and Care Partnership set up the Oximetry @ Home service with Inhealthcare for high-risk and clinically-vulnerable patients, including those with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds, to manage a surge in Omicron cases.
GPs referred more than 2,000 patients to the service between January and May this year, potentially saving up to 440 emergency attendances, 750 GP visits, and 1,150 calls to 111, according to the ICS evaluation.
And patient feedback was ‘overwhelmingly positive’, with 99% reporting a ‘very good’ or ‘good’ experience, and just 1% providing a neutral response.
Patients were monitored three times a day using a pulse oximeter, with clinical questions sent by text, email, or telephone.
The evaluation found the flexible contact methods worked well for patients with learning difficulties, sensory impairment, and mental health conditions, or those who did not have English as their first language.
This evaluation demonstrates that remote monitoring can provide a clinically-safe and effective route to manage patients at home, minimise contact for positive COVID cases, and significantly reduce demand on A&E departments, general practices, and 111 call centres
Overall, a fifth of patients, typically among older age groups, chose telephone, demonstrating the importance of offering a range of contact methods to suit each individual.
The service aimed to put in place clinically-safe and effective services, release capacity in clinical teams to support patients who need the most support, reduce the length of stay in hospital through the early identification of deteriorating health, and help patients to self manage their COVID symptoms.
One patient said: “The service works brilliantly and kept me from going to A&E. I knew that if my condition got worse help was immediately at hand.”
Another added: “Because I do not have a smartphone I got stressed about reporting my readings, but the team was great and they called me on my home phone three times a day so I could report my results.”
The majority of patients – 96% – were discharged as recovered or self discharged after an average of 10 days. The longest period was 42 days. And 2% of patients were admitted to hospital, although it is not known if this was due to COVID.
The evaluation was based on patient survey data, GP survey data, service data and metrics, feedback from GP federations and alliances, and COVID admissions data, with most practices saying they found the service easy to use.
Sussex Health and Care said learnings from the project would inform the development of other remote monitoring services to deliver specialist care at home and manage any future increase in need.
Bryn Sage, chief executive of Inhealthcare, said: “This evaluation demonstrates that remote monitoring can provide a clinically-safe and effective route to manage patients at home, minimise contact for positive COVID cases, and significantly reduce demand on A&E departments, general practices, and 111 call centres. It also underlines the importance of digital inclusion and patient choice as many people clearly feel more comfortable using telephones to engage with remote monitoring services.”