New software will enable clinicians to track patients’ mental health and wellbeing remotely, reducing hospital admissions
“The benefits we hope to see from this include more regular and efficient monitoring, preventing unnecessary hospital admissions, and have the ability to flag potential issues earlier on.” Dawn Griffith, Swansea Bay University Health Board
Two care homes in Wales have begun a six-month pilot of CliniTouch Vie, a software platform from Spirit Health that will enable mental health professionals to monitor patients remotely.
Hengoed Park and Hengoed Court, both part of Swansea Bay University Health Board, will use the software to track the wellbeing of patients with dementia or mental health problems. Using the digital platform, health care staff in the homes will record residents’ responses to pre-set questions, agreed between the health board and Spirit Health, as well as their vital signs, such as blood pressure. They can do this either daily, weekly or monthly.
The data, along with a risk-scored list of actions, will be made available to the clinicians at the mental health in-reach team, who are responsible for monitoring the care home. They will be able to triage patients and intervene promptly. The use of a live clinical data traffic light dashboard will help them identify those individuals most at risk and review medication requirements without visiting the care home.
As a result, the board hopes that patients will be able to stay in their care home longer, instead of being admitted to hospital. At the same time, the software will help reduce pressures on hospital beds.
Seventy patients will take part in the pilot and, if it’s successful, the technology could be rolled out to other care homes in Wales. Dawn Griffith of Swansea Bay University Health Board said that the trial had the potential to enhance the support offered for patients’ mental health and wellbeing: “Closely monitoring our patients is something already done by our in-reach teams, but by digitising monitoring it allows us to identify the needs of patients in a more efficient way to be able to advise the best care for each individual. The benefits we hope to see from this include more regular and efficient monitoring, preventing unnecessary hospital admissions, and have the ability to flag potential issues earlier on.”
The pilot is one of a number of remote monitoring technologies to be funded by the Welsh government’s Covid-19 Digital Solutions Fund. It is also being supported by the Digital Health Ecosystem Wales (DHEW), a collaboration between industry, clinicians, policymakers, academics, innovators and funders to promote digital innovation in Welsh healthcare.
Delyth James, DHEW programme lead, said: “Supporting residents in care homes with their mental health is a vital, but often complex, process. This project works to streamline the process of providing mental health support to residents of care homes, whilst ensuring the standard of care remains at the same high level. Through the use of remote digital technology, this initiative will not only support holistic care but will help identify patients with deteriorating mental health conditions more efficiently.”
FCC's view: "About 70% of care home residents have dementia. It is critical to find new ways of supporting these patients, by improving access and flexibility across care environments. FCC’s research in 2021 highlighted a range of mental health care solutions with the potential to address longstanding gaps in care provision. Pilots such as this can provide useful first steps. Remote care and easier access to mental health support are vital. It is essential, however, that pilots are assessed critically and are adopted more widely if successful. Platforms such as the CliniTouch Vie have potential for improving outcomes. With a range of data capture systems, they can provide more comprehensive, efficient monitoring of conditions, and could also shed light on co-morbidities and complex conditions over the long term. We must remember too that the pandemic has had a profound effect on the mental health of practitioners and those engaged with care – their mental health needs should not be neglected." Peter Bloomfield, head of policy and research