At Health Innovation East, we believe that great ideas only make a difference for our health when they are put into practice. Our multidisciplinary team of experts help the best innovations in health and care reach the people, places and problems where they bring most benefit.
In the evolving landscape of healthcare innovation, the integration of patient experiences into the design of remote health-monitoring technologies is vital. Drawing on patient experiences not only enriches these technologies but also empowers those whom the technologies serve.
The National Insights Prioritisation Programme (NIPP), a joint initiative of the Accelerated Access Collaborative, NHS England and the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for the East of England, was designed to facilitate an understanding of the impact of using remote monitoring (RM) technology in patient care across integrated care systems (ICSs). It encompassed a roll-out of RM across various clinical pathways in the East of England. The University of Hertfordshire and Health Innovation East led an evaluation of RM in four regional sites and provided NHS trusts with insights into the implementation and impact of RM.
An important element of the evaluation was a Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP), which was made up of patients with direct experience of RM technology. One of the members of the panel was Ian McIlroy, a patient of the Northampton General Hospital (NGH) chest clinic. Ian’s experience illustrates the significant potential of remote monitoring and the positive impact of patient-centred solutions on individual health outcomes.
Ian’s 25-year struggle with asthma, which intensified over the last five years, serves as a reminder of the need for patient-focused care. Although he followed a rigorous management plan, his condition led to frequent and severe exacerbations. However, in January 2021, Ian’s healthcare narrative took a hopeful turn.
The NGH team’s decision to use the Doccla asthma home monitoring system marked a milestone in Ian’s health journey. Doccla’s RM technology facilitated the daily tracking of essential health metrics in a user-friendly and accessible way. Ian’s interaction with the RM system, which he describes as ‘intuitive and easy-to-handle’, included the use of a straightforward smartphone app that was pivotal in improving his experience.
The insights gained from the RM system reshaped Ian’s treatment. They paved the way for his transition to advanced benralizumab monoclonal antibody therapy, which improved his quality of life and reduced his dependence on steroids.
The bigger picture
Ian’s story goes beyond personal health improvement. It illuminates the broader potential of remote monitoring in health and care. Such technologies not only streamline data collection and increase patient involvement but also help to optimise clinical decisions. Equally, as Ian points out, these technologies have a role in speeding up hospital discharges and supporting the ways in which health and social care work together.
Ian and the other members of the LEAP emphasised the importance of ensuring that RM is accessible to people who may find it more difficult to participate, such as those for whom English is not a first language, or the digitally excluded. Not all services routinely collect information about patients that may help to tackle known health inequalities – meaning that thought needs to be given to the way services identify and communicate with patients who may benefit from RM and also to how they engage with technology. Further information on the findings of the NIPP on RM in the East of England and other initiatives across England can be found here.
‘[RM] represented an opportunity for me to work together with the specialist asthma nurse in a way that significantly enhanced the quality of my care.’
Ian’s experience with RM highlights the potential for improving the experience of patients and the technology’s ability to address healthcare challenges such as hospital resource management and the COVID-19 backlog. In Ian’s case, RM emerges as an instrument for empowerment, enabling him to manage his condition more autonomously and equipping him with information that became a catalyst for conversations about his treatment.
Ian’s insights also reinforce the importance of viewing RM as a collaborative endeavour that reaches beyond the immediate relationship between patient and clinical team. Cooperation across health, social care and community services is crucial in providing patients, particularly those transitioning from hospital to home-based care, with the holistic support they need. Such comprehensive support enhances the overall effectiveness of RM in managing health conditions like asthma.
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