Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust is rolling out the Safe Mobile Care system to hundreds of patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.
The trust’s general manager of community services, Lesley Lewis, said the target is to recruit 27 patients a month to the telehealth solution for the 12 month contract, and the first patients started using the system in April.
The Safe Mobile Care system uses a touch screen mobile phone programmed with personalised care plans.
Every day the phones prompt patients to answer key questions about their health, while monitoring devices automatically capture important observations related to their condition using wireless technology.
Responses are sent in real time to Safe Mobile Care Triage Management software. If they indicate that a patient’s health may be worsening, an automatic alert is sent to the relevant nurse or a doctor.
Lewis said recruitment was “not going as well as we would like across parts of the county,” in part because some case managers are new to the idea of telehealth.
“It’s a case of getting the rest of the case managers on board and into the habit of routinely looking at patients who would benefit from telemonitoring,” she said.
Birmingham Community Healthcare was formed with the merger of three provider organisations, Birmingham East and North, Heart of Birmingham and South Birmingham.
Birmingham East and North previously had a successful telehealth programme running with a different provider and when the three organisations merged, the decision was made to deploy telehealth across the patch.
Feedback from the home monitoring project running previously was that it gave patients more independence.
Lewis said the assessment team looked at four or five options and chose Safe Patient Systems because of the portability of the technology, user friendliness and competitive pricing.
Some staff were already familiar with Safe Patient Systems because of two successful pilots using the technology run in conjunction with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.
These pilots demonstrated a decrease in admissions for patients using telehealth, which from a commissioning perspective is very attractive, she explained.
The trust will evaluate its investment by comparing previous unplanned emergency admission rates of patients with those after patients start using the mobile phone solution, as well as user experience feedback.
“It’s about helping patients to manage their own condition so they can recognise it escalating before it gets to the point of going to hospital,” said Lewis.
A statement from Safe Patient Systems said the Birmingham Community Healthcare contract has required no high cost capital expenditure as it is being rolled out on a low-cost managed service basis.
“The overall cost of the service is more than 80 per cent lower than the recently published costs associated with the Whole Systems Demonstrator project that means that the system provides an even stronger return on investment for the provider,” it said.
Safe Patient Systems chief executive Mark Doorbarsaid the main benefits of the system are the flexibility of the software and its use of familiar touchscreen mobile phone technology.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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