Featured finalists: excellent innovators and best remote monitoring

As our countdown to the Leading Healthcare Awards 2021 continues, we next look at our finalists in the ‘Excellence in Innovation’ and ‘Best Remote Monitoring Solution’ categories.

The submissions for each award brought to our attention a fantastic set of inventions, ideas and remote solutions for healthcare needs. These two awards areas naturally complement each other, particularly after a year in which remote and online innovations were amongst the most sought-after.

So, without further ado, here are our finalists – companies, trusts, partnerships and professionals that have made a big difference.

Excellence in Innovation

First up, we take a look at some excellent innovators, who have lead the way in fields ranging from cardiac health rehabilitation, supporting adult carers, online GP consultations and mental health chat bots.

Tekihealth takes remote diagnostic consultations to care homes

The ability to treat and support care home residents safely – away from settings that are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection – has been a major focus of the past 12 months.

Tekihealth Solutions’ ‘Teki-Hub’ is a great example of just how the idea of remote clinician appointments has taken off, adapted and evolved. Led by NHS GPs, the aim is to reduce unplanned hospital admissions, GP home visits and improve access to care.

Placed in several care homes across the UK, Teki-Hub enables clinicians to carry out remote physical examinations of the heart, lung, skin, ears, nose and throat of residents. The innovation ‘facilitates the ability to examine patients remotely using state of the art digital technology and strong internet connectivity solutions’, via a core device that consists of a mobile hand-held modular diagnostic device connected to a compact lightweight wireless internet router.

The diagnostic device includes a high-resolution video and still camera, no-touch infrared basal thermometer, stethoscope, otoscope and tongue depressor attachments. Ancillary devices also enable vital sign monitoring such as blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturations.

Better ways of working through online services in Yorkshire

Yorkshire Health Partners (YHP) led an online GP consultation pilot scheme using the platform Engage Consult, with the aim of improving patient access to primary care and facilitating ‘better ways of working’ for GP surgeries and care homes.

Working with Humber Coast & Vale STP, its focus was on assessing the impact of using the online consultation platform as the first point of contact. It also wanted to see whether a remote resource could ‘alleviate the day-to-day pressures for local practices’, by dealing with routine administration and clinical requests.

Within a limited timeframe, the programme grew from two GP practices and 10 care homes participating in the programme to six GP practices and 27 care home homes in just three months.

The service included an online request with a direct interface to patient medical records, as part of a system updated in real-time. Benefits included a reduction in calls and queries from care homes, a reduction in admin and more focus for frontline care.

Caring for carers during COVID-19

Following an improvement audit at Newton Medical Centre, in line with the NICE guidelines on supporting adult carers, the GP practice set out to identify people who may be in need of extra information and support.

The project saw registered carers at the centre being contacted in autumn 2020, with phone calls across a four-week period. This contact was aimed at providing carers with practical and emotional support and training.

A need for increased access to appointments and a desire for better communication from the practice were among the findings, which were considered and acted on via subsequent clinical meetings.

Through reaching out, the practice was able to address misconceptions over capacity for patient care and provide detail regarding flu vaccines, e-consultations and support groups.

Bespoke exercise interventions for cardiac patients

CP+R, a high-performance exercise rehabilitation service, offers ‘bespoke exercise and nutrition interventions’ to patients with cardiac and cancer diagnoses.

Through the programme, patients are referred to as ‘athletes’ and provided with a ‘4 Pillar® approach to lifestyle management’, which includes resistance exercise, cardiovascular exercise, daily activity and balanced nutrition.

Each ‘athlete’ receives their own support team, led by a cardiac coach and supported by the nursing team, a physiotherapist and senior leadership team.

Health and progress are monitored, allowing for bespoke changes to be made to patient programmes. Since COVID-19, CP+R has also begun to offer a virtual service.

Partnership creates AI chatbot for mental health services

Vita Health Group (VHG), a physical and mental healthcare company recently partnered with the AI experts at Limbic to create a chatbot to help patients with the NHS Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) primary care mental health services.

The team worked together to co-design the ‘VitaMinds Referral Assistant,’ which was conceptualised, produced and tested within six weeks. According to the companies, ‘swift implementation was vital to meeting patient need during the COVID pandemic, when rapid access to mental health support/treatment is more critical than ever’.

Aiming to streamline access to the correct services and treatment, the VitaMinds Referral Assistant guides patients through questions to determine if they meet the inclusion criteria that relates to age, location and being registered with a qualifying GP.

Those that don’t meet the criteria are signposted to other appropriate local services for support, while those who do meet the criteria are self-referred into the IAPT service within 48-hours to arrange a full clinical assessment with a clinician. Patients are also provided with an option to complete clinical screening questionnaires, with the VitaMinds Referral Assistant then able to recommend the most appropriate patient pathway.

Best Remote Monitoring Solution

We also welcomed entries from the latest in remote monitoring technology, with the submissions stretching across solutions for clinical assessments to digital ‘self-management’ tools for people with autism.

Oxehealth for contact-free mental health monitoring

Oxehealth’s remote monitoring technology, Oxevision, is designed for use primarily in mental health service settings.

The tech uses an optical sensor, featuring cameras and infrared illumination, in a secure housing to monitor patients in rooms. Through monitors and portable devices, clinicians can receive alerts around patient behaviour, receive reports on clinical risk factors, do safety checks without disturbing patients and get ‘incident insights’ that support learning.

The contact-free system was trialled across two older adult mental health wards at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust. Around 22 months into the study it was found that there had been an 82% reduction in harmful falls, a 48% reduction in bedroom falls at night and a 49% reduction in emergency service visits.

Digital self-management tools to help with anxiety

Brain in Hand is a digital self-management system that supports people who need help remembering things, making decisions, planning, or managing anxiety.

The system specifically aims to transform care for people with autism through ‘user-led self-management’, both pre and post-diagnosis. Funded by NHS England & NHS Improvement, Brain in Hand won a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare award and, according to the company, now aims to ‘advance the product’s capabilities, enhancing functionality, usability, and the overall experience…improving daily management and providing greater independence.’

Results from one report showed nine out of 10 users had an increase in wellbeing within seven months, while service providers had direct cost savings of £2,800 per user, according to Brain in Hand.

Connecting clinicians to patients with MND

Healthcare tech firm ADI and the University of Sheffield Institute for Translational Research worked together with Sheffield Teaching Hospital to deliver Telehealth in Motor Neurone Disease (TiM) on MyPathway to patients.

The platform was able to be fast-tracked during the COVID-19 pandemic, to protect vulnerable patients. The technology not only connects MND patients with clinicians and healthcare providers through an app or web browser-based patient portal, but also allows for monitoring through weekly digital questionnaires and real-time data.

As well as enabling MND centres to manage their patients digitally during a difficult time, it also empowers patients by providing access to resources and troubleshooting for medical equipment.

Don’t forget to find out the results and the winners on 1 April, from 7pm, by following our Twitter event @leading1health.