COVID at home: ‘virtual ward’ app designed in Midlands

Man holds iPhone in right hand while pulse oximetry device is worn on left middle finger

A digital remote care solution including a mobile phone app is helping Covid-19 patients manage their symptoms at home after being developed with the support of BHP member the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN).

The app developed by medical software company, Dignio, has been implemented by Dudley CCG and allows patients stay at home safely, thus avoiding unnecessary admissions to hospital as well as alerting clinical staff of patients more seriously ill who need prompt admission.

Patients participating in the pilot download the MyDignio app and use Bluetooth enabled medical devices provided as part of the pilot to monitor their temperature and oxygen levels at home. The App connects to a dashboard at the local health centre allowing these readings to be assessed by the clinical team so they can safely keep track of patients with COVID while they remain in their own home.

Users also report their symptoms through a questionnaire within the app to provide a clearer overview of their condition. The platform enables patients to become more engaged in their own health through daily monitoring and communication.

Previously self-isolating patients would receive a call to establish symptoms, but the easy-to-use app now works as a ‘virtual ward’. Patient readings are recorded automatically, and alerts sent to healthcare staff at the first sign of any deterioration, prioritising care for patients who need it most.

Dignio has recently joined the Serendip Accelerator programme which, operating in partnership with the WMAHSN, is designed to support the scale up of digital innovations.

Dr. Julian Sonksen, WMAHSN Clinical Advisor, said: “The AHSN plays an important role in ensuring the NHS benefits from innovation, including digital solutions to challenging clinical scenarios.

“Early in the pandemic the WMAHSN supported Dudley CCG to find a digital solution which would compliment and improve their COVID at home service. Subsequently, after the CCG settled on a solution the WMAHSN has coordinated a comprehensive evaluation of the service focusing on the digital remote care platform provided by Dignio.”

Following successful implementation, MyDignio could be used on a wider scale, for COVID-19 monitoring across more of the West Midlands or nationally.

Dr. Ewa Truchanowicz, Managing Director of MyDignio said: “We were delighted to be accepted for the Serendip Accelerator. Having experienced support from the WMAHSN experts in our oximetry at home with the Dudley CCG project, we look forward to enhancing our growth in the region and beyond. Our connected care solution offers a safe and effective remote care management and working with WMAHSN allows us to ensure that it reflects the ‘best in class’ not just in technology, but also in methodology and content.”

NHS Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group is also planning to expand the solution to care homes across the area. The technology is able to monitor other conditions such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and general health of all care home residents.