West Midlands project to support patients with self-care published in prestigious journal

Posted on 14 January 2016 (Permalink)

The work of a West Midlands project in helping NHS organisations to use technology enabled care services (TECS) to support people in looking after their own health has been recognised by publication in an esteemed journal.

The article, “Implementing a Technology Enabled Care Service”, has been published this week in the British Journal of Healthcare Management. The article covers the learning from the year-long Advice and Interactive Messaging (AIM for Health Project), which was funded by NHS England via NHS Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group.

The article focuses on the use of TECS, particularly Florence Simple Telehealth, which makes use of a mobile phone service to communicate with the patient. It involves an interactive free texting service, free to patients, designed by professionals inside the NHS to provide support and advice for patients to manage their own health conditions. The service combines the expertise of the patient’s healthcare team and the convenience of their own mobile phone, with a virtual clinician, “Flo”, giving prompts and advice to act upon. If the patient needs a little more assistance, Flo helps them to monitor their vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels and many others.

The Florence service was supported by the West Midlands and the East Midlands Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), as part of work to show how TECS can be used by NHS organisations to deliver better person-centred care, with increased patient convenience, better understanding of conditions, health benefits and cost benefits from avoided use of traditional health services.

The article, authored by Lisa Taylor, Senior Specialist at Simple Telehealth and Jayne Birch-Jones, TECS Consultant to the East Midlands AHSN, is written against the backdrop of the known challenges surrounding the adoption and diffusion of innovation within the NHS, and aims to provide robust evidence-based experiences. Seeking to inform and guide the introduction, or expansion, of any TECS programme, the article supports the vision of technology being considered as part of routine care within clinical pathways supporting the delivery of safe, efficient healthcare popular with patients and carers alike, using the success of Flo as a vehicle.

Lisa said: “The article brings our ongoing experience in TECS implementation, reinforced with the best practice examples of integration of Florence from across the UK. Florence is a nationally recognised NHS-owned and developed tool, and has now developed sufficient maturity and scale to be well-placed as a platform to deliver learning in this area.

“We focused on the lessons learned from the use of Florence in the promotion of patient supported self-management and refer to best practice evidence collected both within the Stoke-on-Trent’s AIM for Health project and other organisations who have commissioned Florence.

“Practical critical factors that have previously demonstrated success, including those that have succeeded in spreading the use of Flo more widely, are presented. We included nine areas of key success criteria and best practice, supported by evidence and case studies, to inform readers who are new to TECS, and also to support existing adopters with practical resources.”

Dr Ruth Chambers OBE, a GP in Stoke-on-Trent, Chair of Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group and Clinical Lead for Long Term Conditions at the West Midlands AHSN, said: “This article walks the reader through the practical steps required to take TECS from a vision to reality, underpinned by organisational readiness, training and development, information governance and cultural change needs, through to evaluation and mainstreaming.

 “The importance of what we are trying to help teams deliver TECS cannot be overstated. Demands on our services due to the rise of long term conditions are continuing to increase. Using technology will not only enable us to shape services to suit the needs and preferences of individual patients; embracing it will also help us take on the challenges we face every day.”