Bringing the Ward to You – Virtual Ward Project Launched

Medical Devices

In light of the constraints felt by the NHS over the pandemic, affecting patients nationwide, the NHS has prioritised funding innovative strategies to facilitate accessible and portable healthcare away from hospital sites. Such changes would mean that patients can still access the healthcare they need even when access to hospitals and general practices are limited, and even facilitate ongoing monitoring of patients with chronic health conditions and requirements for ongoing medical care.

Dignio have developed an integrated care platform that allows the creation of “virtual wards” and “virtual waiting lists”, which aim to reduce unnecessary admissions and appointments, prioritise patients accordingly for follow-up appointments, and allow monitoring of their health in real-time. The goal of this is to make the monitoring of patients easier, more efficient, and more accessible for those patients where attending regular appointments with different specialists may be difficult. This is pertinent in creating resource to meet the needs of the increasing ageing population, who often experience multi-morbidity and more regularly require an interdisciplinary approach across a range of specialties to manage their health. These patients may be managed in collaboration, with a pro-active approach facilitated by more continuous health data appraisal by their clinical team while they remain in the comfort of their home.

“Bringing the Ward to You – Virtual Ward Project Launched in Collaboration with Dignio“

Where patients may require monitoring, but are not considered “at-risk”, such as those on certain medications, or requiring ongoing observations, can be cared for in their home, meaning they are not required to be admitted and therefore hospital bed-days are preserved for those patients who need it, without compromising care for those not considered an emergency, or severely unwell. For those who still require admission, but can be discharged for safe monitoring at home, may be discharged from hospital earlier and monitored on the virtual step-down wards. This means that more patients can be monitored safely at once, reducing work burden on healthcare professionals and improving health outcomes and quality of care for their patients. This is also thought to potentially reduce the number of non-attendances and need for repeat appointments. There is also scope for these remote step-down wards to more gradually assist people in re-entering their regular routine where it may be difficult or require more assistance. This extends hospital care to the community and allows the multi-disciplinary team oversee the recovery process, and unifying efforts of health and social care professionals to help patients return to their life in a way that at least meets their baseline prior to receiving medical care.

Dignio have also outlined how a “Step-up” ward might work, where individuals at increased risk of repeat admissions may be assessed, monitored, and managed out of hospital, and only admitted where necessary. Although research into the relative risks patients have in this setting has yet to be carried out, it is conceivable that this new system may reduce the incidence of risks typically associated with prolonged hospital admission. These include hospital-acquired infections by limiting the time patients are kept on wards, venous thromboembolism, bed sores, mental and physical deconditioning, and sleep-deprivation, due to reduced mobility, as well as disruption of everyday life ( ( In people whose chronic health conditions mean that admission to hospital and the risks associated with admission are greater, such as those with chronic respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or cystic fibrosis, increased risk of thromboembolism, or finally those who are immunocompromised, including patients receiving treatment for cancer, or using long-term steroids, may avoid those risks, and receive the care they need at home.

Finally, Dignio has described how they hope that this new technology will reduce health inequalities by making healthcare more accessible to a greater number of people, and innovate holistic care in the NHS. Currently, individuals are cared for with the use of multiple apps, face-to-face and remote consultations, paper and digital notes, and different software between trusts currently meaning that patients may not receive the person-centred care they would ideally receive, limiting their care to system-based assessments across different specialties. By incorporating the health of the patient into one central app permitting remote monitoring and care, each patient may be assessed and treat as a whole person, with improved collaboration between their healthcare teams.

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