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Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care System Partners with Spirit Health to Deliver Healthcare at Home Using Pioneering Virtual Wards

Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) Integrated Care System (ICS), spanning more than 1.1m patients, has today announced a pioneering and ambitious new partnership with Spirit Health – a leading digital healthcare technology provider – to implement 16 digital healthcare pathways. The partnership will support the scaling up of ‘virtual wards’ and improve long term condition management across acute, primary care and community integrated care pathways. The announcement follows the recent publication of the Government’s ‘Plan for Digital Health and Social Care’, which sets out the goal of delivering better connected care and driving digital innovation to bring the NHS into the 21st century.

The new partnership between Spirit Health and the recently established LLR ICS will give patients across the region access to treatment and support from the comfort of their homes using Spirit Health’s CliniTouch Vie remote monitoring platform. The partnership spans 16 key clinical areas, including Heart Failure, Frailty, Respiratory (COPD, Bronchiectasis, Asthma), Colorectal Cancer, Haematology, end-of-life care, Diabetes, COVID-19 and Obstructive Jaundice, and it will make LLR one of the most digitally advanced ICSs in the country.

The LLR ICS was formally established on 1st July 2022, and includes 132 GP practices, University Hospital Leicester (UHL) and Leicestershire Partnership Trust (LPT).

A key component of the new Spirit Health and LLR ICS partnership is the delivery of innovative ‘virtual wards.’ The NHS is increasingly expanding the availability of virtual wards – an innovation that has stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly for people with a range of acute care needs including respiratory infection, people living with frailty, or for people pre- or post-surgery. Having successfully piloted virtual wards for COPD, Heart Failure and COVID-19 across LPT – data indicates that there were estimated savings to the health system of £529,719. Spirit Health and LLR ICS will now be working to replicate this success for patients with other health conditions to improve patient outcomes and choice, enhance the quality of care that patients receive, free up local hospital bed space, and increase NHS capacity.

Virtual wards allow patients to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital – helping to prevent admissions or allow for an earlier, supported discharge. Virtual wards can also provide much-needed additional capacity to hospital beds, enabling more patients to receive the timely treatment they need whilst enabling some patients to avoid visiting a hospital altogether, as CliniTouch Vie can remotely monitor health symptoms and any changes in a patient’s condition, with clinicians then able to intervene to address issues before they develop into the need for urgent care.

The CliniTouch Vie platform also enables Clinicians and GPs to continuously monitor a patient’s health, using intelligent alerting to identify health trends, deteriorations or new symptoms early. By identifying potential health conditions or issues at an early stage, patients can benefit from starting treatment at the onset of a health issue which can lead to better outcomes.

Virtual wards combine the knowledge of healthcare professionals with innovative technology able to be used in someone’s home, so that they can be supported whilst being as independent as possible.

The technology will support the LLR ICS to achieve NHS England’s target to deliver 40-50 virtual ward beds per 100,000 population by December 2023.

LLR clinicians will be embracing digital change, with support from Spirit Health, to implement the new technology, including onboarding help and ongoing oversight, with the ultimate goal being improved patient outcomes and increased LLR clinical capacity.

Commenting on the partnership agreed between Spirit Health and Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care System, Dr Noel O’Kelly, Clinical Director at Spirit Health, said:

“Utilising technology to strengthen our national health and care service will be absolutely central to futureproofing the NHS and delivering an even greater level of care to patients across the country.

“Implementing new digital services like virtual wards and remote patient monitoring truly represents the next step in bolstering the NHS and ensuring patients are able to access tailored, consistent and reliable care from the comfort of their own homes.

Spirit Health is excited to be partnering with the LLR ICS to further drive transformational change across the region and unlock the significant potential of technology in healthcare.”

Dr. Caroline Trevithick, Chief Nursing Officer/Deputy Chief Executive for NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland said: “Having the right technology partner is crucial in a successful virtual ward to keep everything running smoothly and ensure patients, relatives and health professionals feel supported and confident at all times. Spirit Health have been working with local NHS organisations during the pandemic on the pilot virtual ward schemes and we are delighted to be continuing our journey with them as we expand the virtual ward programme in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”

NHS England Locality Director for Leicester and Leicestershire Oliver Newbould said: “It’s great to see the innovation and commitment of teams across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland who are caring for more and more patients in their home using technology, when previously they would have been in hospital.

“Using this technology will benefit patients, free up clinician time, and help us to reduce the Covid backlogs.”

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