New Study Shows Data-Driven App Reduces Emergency Hospital Admissions in Care Homes


A recent study conducted by the Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) Better Care program has revealed that the use of a digital remote monitoring technology in care homes can result in a 25% reduction in emergency hospital admissions. The study, published in Age and Ageing, examined the benefits of using a smartphone app developed by NHS-owned digital company Health Call for remote health monitoring within care homes.

There are over 400,000 individuals residing in care homes across the UK, many of whom have complex medical needs that increase their risk of requiring emergency healthcare, particularly during the winter months. To address this issue, researchers from the universities of Sheffield, Durham, Lancaster, and Newcastle collaborated under the HDR UK Better Care program to investigate the impact of using digital technology for remote health monitoring in care homes.

The smartphone app developed by Health Call allows care home staff to monitor and manage the long-term health of residents by recording daily observations. This information, securely stored in the app, provides doctors and other clinicians with a comprehensive overview of the resident’s health, enabling them to offer guidance and support from a distance.

The study analyzed the data from 8,702 residents in 118 care homes across the North East of England between 2018 and 2021. By linking the data collected within the care homes with routinely collected NHS secondary care data from County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, the researchers discovered that using the Health Call app led to an 11% reduction in A&E attendances and a 25% decrease in unplanned emergency admissions.

The findings of the study highlight the potential of data-driven solutions, such as remote monitoring technology, in improving care for older individuals and reducing the burden on emergency healthcare services. Care home staff reported an increase in their confidence in identifying potential deterioration in residents earlier and managing illnesses more effectively without the need for hospitalization.

In addition to the impact on hospital attendance and admissions, the research team also conducted a cost analysis. They found that using the Health Call app in care homes resulted in cost savings of £57 per resident in 2018, which increased to £113 in 2021. These cost savings are significant and can contribute to the overall efficiency of healthcare services.

Professor Suzanne Mason, senior author of the study and professor of emergency medicine at the University of Sheffield, emphasized the importance of utilizing data collected by care home staff for research purposes. The study demonstrated the added value of capturing routine health data and highlighted the benefits of integrating digital monitoring technology into healthcare practices.

The Health Call app provides a structured approach to seeking clinical advice for managing unwell care home residents. Caregivers are trained to record the vital signs of residents, allowing the calculation of the National Early Warning Score 2 (NEWS2), which identifies patients at risk of deterioration. Furthermore, caregivers can use a Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) approach to provide detailed information about a resident’s condition, ensuring accurate communication between healthcare providers.

Professor Jo Knight, member of the Lancaster University Data Science Institute, emphasized the timely nature of the research, particularly in light of the investment in NHS secure data environments. The study highlights the potential of using routinely collected data to improve health outcomes and underscores the importance of embracing digital technologies in healthcare.

Overall, the study provides compelling evidence that data-driven solutions, such as remote monitoring technology, can significantly reduce emergency hospital admissions in care homes. The use of the Health Call app not only improves the quality of care for residents but also offers cost savings for the NHS. This research paves the way for further advancements in utilizing data to improve health outcomes and enhance communication between healthcare providers in the future.

1.      Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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