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How we help tackle cardiac surgical waiting lists

We worked with Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals to remotely monitor and prioritise deteriorating patients.

First published: 5 Aug 2021 | 2 min read
Author: Dr Arrash Yassaee, Clinician, Huma

The Covid-19 pandemic has overwhelmed healthcare systems around the world, leading to significant backlogs on surgical waiting lists. As of July 2021, 5.3 million patients in England are said to be waiting for routine operations and according to the Health Secretary this figure could more than double in the coming months. In a new project with Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, we’ve shown how our remote patient monitoring platform can support hospital waiting lists by spotting which patients are deteriorating and need to be prioritised. Digital tools can play a pivotal role in streamlining these waiting lists and ensuring patients are regularly monitored during periods of immense pressure on clinical teams.

We are working with Royal Brompton to help clinicians safely and efficiently manage patients who are waiting for surgery. In collaboration with Royal Brompton’s clinicians we customised our modular smartphone app to remotely monitor cardiac surgery patients. For six months we assessed whether patients would use the app and how well deteriorating individuals could be detected with the collected data. The evaluation was published in JAMIA Open, the open-access journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

At the start of the project, patients were invited to download the Huma app and record their symptoms (particularly those associated with myocardial ischaemia, decompensated heart failure, and syncope) each week. They also had access to educational content curated specifically to support their surgical journey. Clinicians could view their patients’ information on a web-based dashboard, which rated data points according to their clinical severity on a traffic light scale. This rating system meant clinicians could quickly identify any concerning symptoms and detect which individuals needed urgent attention.

Of the 525 patients who chose to use our app, 51 were flagged as potentially deteriorating based on the data captured by our app. These flagged patients were escalated to their consultant and then discussed by a multidisciplinary clinical team. Of these 51 patients, 45, almost 90%, had their surgery date brought forward. 11 of these patients were awaiting coronary artery bypass graft, 19 were awaiting valvular surgery and four were awaiting both. The remaining 11 patients were awaiting complex combined cardiac procedures.

Remote patient monitoring enables clinicians to focus on the patients in greatest need of care, and offers a method to review large numbers of patients on the waiting list. Our platform helped Royal Brompton prioritise potentially life-saving surgery for patients who otherwise may have been further back in the queue.

The success of this project illustrates the crucial role of digital tools in healthcare today. Technology can support clinical teams to monitor patients and prioritise urgent cases without overwhelming the healthcare system, while also reassuring patients that they are being monitored carefully. At Huma, we are committed to developing digital tools that have a positive clinical and economic impact on healthcare and help people live longer, fuller lives.

For more information about our remote patient monitoring platform, contact healthcare@huma.com 


¹ Waiting list figures hit 5.3million as of July 2021: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57793122

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