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Webinar: Empowering patients and relieving pressure on the NHS

Learn how Huma’s technology helps clinicians improve outcomes for heart failure patients and identify deteriorating cardiac surgery patients with almost 90% specificity.

First published: 5 May 2022 | 4 min read
Author: Dr Arrash Yassaee

Around 36,000 people in Wales have been diagnosed with heart failure by their GP but thousands more across the country are estimated to live with the condition1. Research shows that heart failure can pose a higher risk of death than some of the most common types of cancer2. In the UK, specialist heart failure nurses play a critical role in providing quality care for the almost one million people with the condition1. But when COVID hit, staff caring for heart failure patients were redeployed to support COVID-19 wards and many patients were reluctant to attend hospital appointments. As a result, heart failure services had to turn to other innovative approaches to provide quality care for these high-risk patients.

We worked alongside specialist heart failure nurses at Cwm Taf University Health Board and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in Wales to launch a 12-week pilot to see if monitoring patients remotely with our ‘hospital at home’ technology could improve experience, care, outcomes and efficiency for those experiencing and treating heart failure. Our results showed that remote patient monitoring helped avoid admissions, facilitate early discharge, and dramatically reduce the time it takes to optimise patients’ medications.

But how did we deliver success for patients and clinicians and what can we learn from this pilot to provide better care across other health boards and clinical areas? I joined Life Science Hub Wales’s Rebecca Haves and Lead Heart Failure Advanced Nurse Practitioner at Cwn Mandie Welch for a webinar to discuss the project and outcomes in more detail.

Watch the Huma and Digital Health Ecosystem Wales hosted webinar on demand link and read some of our key learnings from the project below

  • Good patient engagement leads to better outcomes

To run successful projects we need to understand what patients want digital health to look like. That's not just how they want their care delivered but how digital platforms look and work for them. High-quality digital health will require tried and tested products that meet patient needs and this isn’t something that happens overnight.

At Huma, we've iterated our platform countless times over the last decade, captured millions of different data points, and collected hours of qualitative insights. The information we’ve gathered so far has enabled us to create a platform that's easy and enjoyable to use. We know from experience that improved patient engagement leads to better outcomes and that's what we've seen as part of this project with Cwm Taf and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Boards. By building a platform that supports patient adherence and meaningful engagement we’ve been able to help streamline care processes for cardiac patients in Wales.

  • Healthcare is a team sport

Projects like this couldn’t happen without innovative clinicians helping to drive them forwards. To build effective digital health pathways we need to look beyond just technological expertise and work with those who really understand the needs of patients. We believe nurse-led pathways like this will be a really powerful use case in digital health going ahead.

But it’s not just about the clinical team, digital health brings people together from a wide range of disciplines. That includes designers who bring insights into how patients use, engage and interact with digital interfaces, or engineers and data scientists who power research and analysis of health information. When we start to bring all these different stakeholders together, that’s when we really begin to see impressive outcomes.

  • Technology must work around people

When deploying digital health solutions we must remember that technology needs to work around people, not the other way around. At Huma, we aim to build as much capability into our platform as possible, so we can give clinical teams the flexibility and modularity to pick the specific features they want. That includes what data we ask of patients, how often, and how we ask patients to provide this. Adopting this approach enables us to digitise any care plan rather than expecting patients and clinical teams to have to change their needs based on what we can offer them.

We also have a responsibility to think about health inequalities and what we can do to address this. By understanding who uses our platform and how they engage with it, we can make sure we don’t leave anyone behind.

  • Helping the patients of today and tomorrow

We believe our work to support heart failure patients is just the tip of the iceberg of what we can achieve with our remote monitoring technology. For example, by using our technology to support surgical pathways, we were able to identify deteriorating patients with a specificity of almost 90% and prioritise them for surgery3. Evaluations of deployments of our hospital at home COVID-19 service during the pandemic found that our platform has the potential to almost double clinical capacity4. One of the important things we’ve learned with this particular project in Wales is how to support adherence to care pathways, particularly for patients who need many changes to their medications. Understanding how to do this is key for the successful delivery of remote care and we’re looking forward to sharing the results of our evaluation soon in a peer-reviewed journal.

But for us it's not just about remote care, we can also generate research off the back of these projects. We’ve shown that our ‘hospital at home’ technology can be used to remotely monitor high-risk patients, which opens the doors for us to explore previously unfeasible cardiac research studies via decentralized and hybrid approaches. We can use our technology to support research and gain new insights that help the patients of today and tomorrow to live longer, fuller lives.

Find out more about our ‘hospital at home’ technology.

References:

  1. British Heart Foundation 2022 Heart Statistics [Online] Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/our-research/heart-statistics [Accessed 3 May 2022]

  2. Do patients have worse outcomes in heart failure than in cancer? A primary care-based cohort study with 10-year follow-up in Scotland (2017), European Journal of Heart Failure, DOI: 10.1002/ejhf.822

  3. Bernard Dillon Obika et al. (2021) Implementation of a mHealth solution to remotely monitor patients on a cardiac surgical waiting list: service evaluation, JAMIA Open, Volume 4, Issue 3 DOI: 10.1093/jamiaopen/ooab053

  4. NHSX report: https://www.nhsx.nhs.uk/covid-19-response/technology-nhs/huma-medopad-evaluation-remote-digital-care-platform/ The full report is available on request.


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