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Rupert Hipwell is Strategic Business Manager at Philips Healthcare.

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Supported Self Care: technology for population ageing & long term illness

In the UK, and more widely across Europe and the world, the realisation that people are living longer is starting to have a tangible impact on healthcare systems.

This is evidenced by the fact that, in the NHS alone, 70% of care budgets go on managing long term conditions (LTCs).

Philips believes that this challenge can be met through the intelligent use of personalised technology and supporting people to better self-manage. As a result healthcare systems across the globe are currently transitioning to meet this new set of challenges, and supporting this transition is the advent of tailored programmes for remote patient management.

I very much believe that technology will have a significant role to play in the future of care provision. Evidenced by examples of its successful roll-out in parts of the UK, such programmes are capable of delivering significant improvements in patient outcomes and experience.

An example of where the potential of telehealth is starting to be realised is in Cheshire, where Philips has announced a new venture with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Working in collaboration, we have launched the Supported Self Care Champion Project, which is designed to improve patients’ ability and confidence to self-manage with the aim of improving peoples’ lives and alleviating some of the demands on our National Health Service.

The initial outreach will run over a one year period and will support up to 960 patients with varying levels of need, providing customised supported self-care programmes to the patients and their healthcare professionals.

Supporting patients

As with the roll-out of any such telehealth programme, the first step is for each patient to have their individual health and monitoring needs assessed, before being trained on how to use the technology solutions that are most suitable for them.

These technology solutions provide patients with structured education, coaching, monitoring and empowerment specifically designed to support them in changing their behaviors, achieving their personal goals and improving their clinical outcomes.

Patients’ health data is captured as regularly as required and automatically communicated to their healthcare professional team for assessment. This data is also presented to the patient themselves in order to support improved knowledge, skills, confidence and ultimately empowerment to self-care.

Patients benefit by gaining increased independence. For many, this means they do not have to rely on family and friends to transport them to the surgery or hospital.

Furthermore, with data constantly being transferred in real time, clinicians can stay on top of any changes in their health readings, meaning that if they fall outside of pre-defined limits, action can be taken.

Multi-parameter clinical algorithms and smart alerts are used to support clinical decisions and leverage the capacity of the clinical team. As a result, telehealth has the potential to prevent hospital admissions through early identification of changes to vital signs.

Lastly, by helping to prolong a person’s independence at home, supported self-care also has the capability to help avoid or delay them having to move into residential care.

Supporting professionals

We not only pride ourselves on being able to provide supportive technologies for the patient, but also for clinicians.

In this instance, through the partnership we will be providing a personalised, technology-enabled supported self-care service, centred around a clinically led multi-disciplinary hub which provides the human face of the service to the patient.

This is designed to facilitate the effective sharing of information between clinicians to ensure they have access to the latest patient data, meaning that they can react and co-ordinate care more efficiently than before, within the multi-disciplinary team.

The programme will look at how to scale the use of these tailored packages of technology, education and clinician support to empower individuals to confidently adopt self-management.

It is hoped that these packages will also provide workforce benefits by embedding care pathways with more collaborative patient-clinician exchanges. By doing so, the healthcare professional is further empowered to provide the patient with the right advice at the right time, while ensuring they remain engaged and independent.

The project will also encourage users such as GPs, district nurses and patients, to become project champions. The champions’ role will be to share information and best practice, with the hope that the project will be rolled out more widely across Cheshire and beyond.

Looking back, moving forward

The results of this project will emerge as it is delivered throughout the year. We have confidence in its success, having participated in similar initiatives in other areas of the UK, including Liverpool.

There, in partnership with Liverpool CCG, Philips demonstrated that such interventions could positively improve self-management of LTCs while also supporting the primary care system to reduce and better manage the burgeoning demand placed upon their services.

Our hope is that we can continue to work in successful partnerships like those we have embarked on in Cheshire and Liverpool, and deliver front line benefits for both patients and clinicians, while simultaneously relieving pressure on the local health system by reducing GP and nurse visits, decreasing hospital admissions and freeing up residential care spaces.

While this is not the answer in and by itself, it is a step in the right direction toward aligning the healthcare system with the changing needs of the population, in the UK and further afield.

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