Remote health monitoring is an increasingly important way of keeping people well. Measuring their vital signs using technological innovations means health professionals can manage people’s health conditions while enabling them to stay in their own living environment.
It can reduce the number of visits to hospitals and GP surgeries for those who need regular check-ups. Their travel time and costs are less, and they have the reassurance of knowing their medical team can see how they’re doing and will act if issues arise.
It’s also now helping people stay safely in their own home following a hospital stay. For some patients, it’s a much better option than being cared for either temporarily in a care home or through an extended hospital stay.
And it can help care home residents avoid becoming seriously ill by spotting changes in their health early, making them easier to treat.
Below, you can read about the ways we’re using remote monitoring to keep people well in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK).
Monitoring vital signs remotely in residents’ homes
People with long-term conditions are using technology to measure how well they are, all in the comfort of their own home.
Using a special kit, they can check their own vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels before sending the results by mobile phone to the medical team caring for them. The team can then take action if something doesn’t look right.
For those patients for whom remote monitoring is appropriate, it offers the chance to stay safe and well at home, without the need to travel for regular check-ups. By being able to monitor patients in this way, the medical team can spot any issues early, helping to avoid the patient getting worse and having to spend time in hospital.
The kit was commissioned from virtual ward company, Doccla, during the third national COVID-19 lockdown. It includes a mobile phone with the Doccla app, a thermometer, blood pressure monitor, pulse oximeter to measure oxygen levels and, in some cases, weighing scales.
It’s being used in Luton with patients who have lung conditions. Lead respiratory nurse, Eleanor Lyon, said: “The use of remote monitoring allowed the team to deliver the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Service during difficult times and stopped the need for visits to drop off and collect equipment. This saved valuable clinical time.
“We have been able to detect early concerns with patients and we have been able to identify abnormal blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation remotely and act on this promptly. This in return has avoided deterioration in the patient’s health.”
The virtual assistant helping keep people safe and at home for longer
People whose care needs are being assessed after leaving hospital could find themselves receiving the support of a new friend called ‘Monica’.
Monica is a virtual assistant – the voice of a remote monitoring device that checks a person’s wellbeing and daily routines to help them stay safe and well.
Technology company MiiCare has partnered with Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB) and Luton Borough Council to provide the support for people who are at risk of falls or urinary tract (water) infections. The device is also available for those who have recently left stroke or neurological units. Healthcare professionals involved in the person’s care can refer them for the service if appropriate.
Monica acts as a health coach, using carefully placed sensors to register if a person has not lifted a cup to drink, or picked up their medication when needed. Her prompts and encouragement to look after themselves can help people avoid infections and hospital stays.
Monica also includes door sensors, which can alert family members and carers when a door is left open, send them SOS messages if help is needed, and provide healthcare professionals with information about the person’s day-to-day life.
The technology not only provides reassurance for the patient and their family members, but also means the person can stay in their own home. That’s better for them, and also reduces the pressure on the care system, enabling services to provide care where it’s most needed.
Spotting health issues early in care home residents
Knowing exactly how well or ill a person is at any one time can be difficult – but care homes in BLMK are now able to monitor the health of residents much more closely, thanks to a user-friendly system.
The Whzan Blue Box contains everything needed to enable staff to make regular health checks on their residents. Being able to see early signs of things changing means they can alert clinical colleagues before the person becomes so unwell they need hospital care.
Measurements such as heart rate, blood oxygen levels, temperature and blood pressure can be taken with the kit, which is also used by our partners in community support teams and ambulance services. An additional feature of the system is that it works out the National Early Warning Score (NEWS2) – the method used to check if someone who is already ill is becoming worse.
The remote monitoring system can send the resident’s test results straight to their GP if the practice is set up to receive them, helping to speed up diagnosis and care.
It also tells care home staff what a resident’s results mean – staff don’t need to be medically trained to understand the information.
By nipping health issues in the bud in this way, fewer ambulances need to be called and residents are less likely to have to stay in hospital. Care homes also benefit by using their resources more effectively as they don’t need extra staff to care for sick residents.
Felicity Cox, Chief Executive of NHS Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board has recorded a series of podcasts beginning with a conversation on…the increasing developments of digital innovations in healthcare, including Whzan Blue Box. You can listen to all podcasts on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
What our care services say
“The Whzan Blue Box speaks for residents who can’t talk. It’s a really useful tool for any care home to have and gives us the help we need for our residents much more quickly.” Sylvester Mulenga, Senior Carer at Oasis House Residential Home, Bedford
You can find out more about what we’re doing by clicking on each of the links below. For more information on the programme, or any of our projects, please email the team.