The NHS is setting up more and more virtual wards to prevent hospitals in the UK from being overloaded due to the more contagious UK coronavirus variant. For this purpose, agreements have been concluded, inter alia, with e-health providers Huma and Luscii. The Luscii COVID-19 Home app makes it possible to prevent hospitalization and to release patients earlier. That’s what NHSx, the digital division of the NHS, said.
This digital care should prevent hospital visits and admissions. In this way available healthcare capacity is used as best as possible. Through an app, patients measure oxygen saturation, temperature and symptoms at home. An algorithm in the app evaluates the home measurements and, if necessary, warns the caregivers on the virtual ward. Patients who are still admitted can then be released from the hospital with the app. The virtual ward monitors them remotely through the app so they can recover at home and the hospital bed can be used directly for another patient.
According to Luscii founder Daan Dohmen, the Dutch Luscii app was already widely used by the NHS for patients with chronic conditions. “When the NHS heard about our program to support COVID-19 patients at home, it was quick.”In the north of Sunderland, the app was set up for the British situation and now the Luscii team is connecting several NHS regions to the app weekly. What makes this rapid deployment special, according to Dohmen,is that the projects are also completely virtual.
“We can’t travel, so our teams do all the implementations completely through Zoom.”
Luscii introduced the Corona Check in the first wave with the Amsterdam OLVG. This app – to check low threshold for any person to have COVID symptoms-was eventually introduced nationwide and has so far been used by some 200,000 people. In the same period, the development for the COVID-19 Home app was started, together with St. Antony Hospital in Nieuwegein.
Research led by lung doctors Hans Hardeman and Renske Vorsselaars last year showed that oxygen-based patients could be released from the hospital about 6.5 days earlier with the app. Moreover, 97% of patients were extremely satisfied with this remote care. After publication of these results, interest from other regions soon followed. Apart from the UK, the app is used in six other countries, including three in Africa.
Growing deployment at Home-app
According to Luscii, the Home app is used in about half of Dutch hospitals to digitally support regular care. Just last January, Nijmegen CWZ announced that the use of the Home app was extended to patients with severe asthma. In addition, about 15 hospitals are now connected to the COVID-19 home programme, often together with regional family doctors groups. For example, in December 2020, the Zans Medical Center joined.
Among the hospitals participating in the COVID-19 home programme are: St. Anthony Hospital, Albert-Schweitzer-Hospital, MEDICAL centre, City hospital, Jeroen Bosch hospital, Red Cross Hospital, Isala hospital, Alrijne hospital, Zaans Medical Center, Groene Hart ziekenhuis, Meander Medical Centre, the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital. There are also some hospitals where the program is currently being started.