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‘Amazing innovation’ and partnership to screen for COVID-19 risks

Posted: 2nd July 2020

Thousands of people in the North can now be pro-actively screened for the risk of COVID-19 before routine NHS appointments, thanks to an innovative partnership between NHS provider City Health Care Partnership of Hull – CHCP – and digital health company Inhealthcare of Harrogate.

Every weekday CHCP sees around 1,000 patients at its clinics and typically arranges another 1,000 nurse visits in community settings. The onset of the pandemic means those patients must be screened before they have any contact with healthcare professionals. CHCP did not have the capacity to do this manually, so they turned to Inhealthcare to develop a digital alternative.

Now patients are contacted before an appointment by automated telephone calls or a text message with a customised questionnaire. The responses flag up any potential COVID-19 symptoms, allowing healthcare professionals to respond accordingly, ensuring staff are aware if they need to take precautions, or rearrange an appointment.

The patient’s record is updated automatically, and community nursing teams have access to the responses through a smartphone app.

Importantly, patients themselves can access the service via the app or an automated phone call, making the service digitally inclusive.

Our programme manager Pete Waddingham said:

“We had been working for some time with Inhealthcare to look at its solutions for remote patient monitoring and digital health services, and how these could be adopted in the region, when we learned about their collaboration with City Health Care Partnership.

“From discussions with them both, it seemed the Inhealthcare platform offered real flexibility to build digital services and solutions at pace. I was also really impressed, not only with the COVID-19 screening tool, but its solutions to support care homes and where they want to use this platform in future care delivery. Inhealthcare has also rolled out an immunisation service to thousands of children across schools in Hull.

“This is a live example on our doorstep of amazing innovation and partnership.”

Mike Cosgrove, project manager at CHCP, said:

“By widening the use of the Inhealthcare solution for the current pandemic we have been able to support clinical teams in near real-time updates of patient condition and risk such as COVID-19 symptoms.

“This has allowed us to develop a more proactive, rather than reactive, response to managing due visits or clinic appointments, keeping both service users and staff safe.

“Thanks to the automation in the system, we’ve also been able to minimise the staff burden of contacting each patient. Patient response and feedback has been positive, and they understand the benefits of these calls.”

Bryn Sage, CEO of Inhealthcare, said:

“We were delighted to hear from the Yorkshire and Humber AHSN and look forward to developing a strong working relationship with this important organisation to help spread the adoption of proven innovations to benefit patients and healthcare providers in our home territory.

“Inhealthcare has rolled out more than 100 commissioned services with our NHS partners across the UK. We are proud to be at the forefront of digital health and remote care technologies and are ready to deploy our services at a national level in support of the NHS.”

Pete Waddingham added:

“As a regional academic health science network we are feeding innovations into national and regional conversations that can help not only with the immediate pressures with COVID-19 but also with future delivery, and we hope we can continue to support both these organisations with some of these connections and conversations.”

Yorkshire & Humber AHSN first came into contact with Inhealthcare through their involvement in NHS England’s ‘Test Bed Programme’. We supported the evaluation of their technology in care homes in the Sheffield City Region. Given the adaptability of Inhealthcare’s solution to support remote monitoring, outpatient services and care home settings, we have introduced Inhealthcare to a number of NHS stakeholders.

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