As part of the NHS drive to give people more personalized, supported and connected care in their own homes, devices and apps have been given to thousands of people who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Dozens of people recovering from coronavirus have also received the technology so that their condition can be monitored remotely by medics.
Cystic Fibrosis sufferers are those that are at extreme risk from the coronavirus and need to follow specific shielding advice offered by the Government.
CF patients that are six years and older will be given a spirometer from this month onwards to measure their lung capacity. The app that has been made available will then enable them to share this information with their doctor. This will ensure that patients get the right help faster and help people stay safe at home.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “For patients and their families living with cystic fibrosis this is a landmark moment, offering people vital health help at home.
“The Covid-19 outbreak has hit every household in the country but for some people with certain conditions, this virus will have been especially unsettling and dangerous, which is why the NHS is looking to make sure those at greatest risk can get safe, tailored care, despite the ongoing pandemic threat.
“As the NHS in England moves from having responded successfully to the first wave of the virus, to helping people to recover and to restoring routine services, it is common sense, convenient and innovative forms of treatment like at-home lung checks that we are making increasingly available to people across the country.”
Professor Andrew Menzies-Gow, NHS England national clinical director for respiratory services said: “The measurement of lung function, which normally occurs in hospitals, is essential to tracking disease progression and deciding changes in treatment.
“Enabling thousands of people with cystic fibrosis across England to provide this information without leaving their home is a vitally important step change in reducing the need for hospital attendances or admissions.”
A trial is also underway to help several patients who have the coronavirus identify any decrease in their blood oxygen-levels with the help of devices given to them by NHS England.
Oximeters are also being trialed along with the data received by clinicians from patients, to identify whether people need to be re-admitted to hospital for further treatment.
More than 150 patients are taking part in the trial where clinicians can track patients’ vital signs in a “virtual ward”. Temperature, blood oxygen saturation and heart rate are all monitored in real-time and alerts are given if a patient needs further assessments or treatments based on these readings.
Tara Donnelly, chief digital officer, NHSX said: “This is a great example of how new technology is supporting healthcare professionals to provide the right care at the right time. With COVID-19, it’s vital that we make use of digital tools that can help support patients who don’t need immediate hospital care and allow close monitoring of their condition.
“The feedback we are getting from patients is that the remote monitoring with clinical oversight is really reassuring to them, and they are grateful to be at home while they recover, rather than in a hospital bed. The clinical team is finding it helps give them very rapid feedback on their patients and they are able to keep an eye on a number of people at a glance, which is working much better for them than the previous system which relied on phone calls.”
With the NHS Long Term Plan that was already in place before the pandemic, the technology and digital breakthroughs made, helped with the implementation of devices and apps to cope with the virus.
According to experts, at home care using technology is the best way forward, as this ensures people get the treatment they need when they need it. This will not only allow people to have more freedom at home, but it can also potentially save lives.