The COVID-19 Catalyst – How the pandemic has optimised the opportunity for digital health

Although the virus has been devastating for so many, it has also accelerated development and adoption of technology across many areas of the healthcare system. 

From digital adoption inertia to embedded change, the pandemic has been the catalyst for clinicians to look at clinical services and how we can use technology to support and care for our patients in new safe and efficient ways. We were able to deliver in weeks, what had previously been anticipated over a number of years, with thousands of respiratory patients now being monitored remotely. 

As a business, very quickly we realised we had to adapt our implementation models mid-flight, onboard patients in a non-contact manner, change requirements, source hardware and rapidly grow a team and culture, remotely.

We responded, by adapting to a fully de-centralised team, proved it is possible to recruit and induct brilliant people in a hurry, broadened our supply lines, enhanced our service delivery capacity, launched two additional products (Pulmonary Rehab and post COVID-19 Discharge) and forged great partnerships with healthcare organisations.

The team at Spirit have been privileged to support the NHS and are proud to be working on two projects which are directly supporting the delivery of patient care.

Project One – Community ‘Virtual Wards’

CliniTouch Vie is being used by clinical teams with their patients as part of the NHS response to COVID-19 and helping them to release hospital beds and manage vulnerable patients in the safety and comfort of their own homes.

CliniTouch Health Questions iPad

We were piloting CliniTouch Vie at Leicestershire Partnership Trust with a handful of their patients prior to COVID-19. They saw the potential of the technology to:

  • Monitor patients with long-term conditions at home
  • Track potential deterioration
  • Support patient self-management
  • Avoid visits through video calls

Then, during the onset of the pandemic, we:

  • Commissioned CliniTouch Vie for up to 1,000 patients
  • Took just 3 weeks to implement
  • Onboarded the entire existing community caseload
  • Supported accelerated hospital discharges

Project Two – Care Home remote monitoring

GP practices across the UK were also facing increased pressures to deliver primary care to care home residents. Both care homes and GP practices struggled to find solutions that provided care that was safe for patients, carers and clinicians.

In order to address this growing demand, Manor Care Centre, a care home in the small village of East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, has been working collaboratively with its local practice, Spilsby GP Practice, on the implementation of CliniTouch Vie.

Manor Care centre has been using the digital platform since May to provide continuity of care for its 40 residents in the safety of the care home, as Kay Harrison, Care Home Manager, Manor Care Centre, explains:

“During COVID-19, it has become increasingly evident that digital technology such as CliniTouch Vie has a huge role to play in supporting the care and safety needs of patients in the community and clinical teams,” she says. “On the one hand, we needed a solution to deliver care safely for our residents during the pandemic, but the benefits in practice have greatly exceeded both our and our residents’ expectations to the point where it is absolutely the way forward, with or without COVID.”

Read the full case study here >>

The healthcare landscape has changed, maybe forever?

We know digital health provides opportunities to accelerate our progress in attaining health and wellbeing related sustainable development goals.”[1]

Technology is evolving and barriers are easing. Undoubtedly this won’t be without its challenges and there will be further changes ahead to commissioning and procurement as we know it. Attitudes to digital adoption are changing. We know we must tackle the challenges around digital inclusion and make it accessible for all, as well as continue to make solutions that are easy to use and that we continue to recognise the need to engage clinicians and patients.

To find out more about the work we do, please email us at info@spirit-digital.co.uk or visit www.spirit-digital.co.uk.

By Chris Barker, CEO, Spirit Health Care Group


[1] https://www.who.int/health-topics/digital-health#tab=tab_1

Reference: DIG3355SEPT20

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