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Empowering the patient and practitioner through tech

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To learn more about enhancing patient care delivery workflows through patient empowerment and home technology, Health Tech World sat down, remotely, with Andre Van Gils, president and CEO of one of the world’s largest health-tech companies, OMRON Healthcare

 

Firstly, what does ‘enhancing patient care delivery workflows through patient empowerment’ mean and why the focus?

As you know, there’s already been a lot of industry and political talk on the benefits of technology and remote care, and how it underpins the move toward preventative care. Over the last year or so, we’ve seen an unprecedented surge in remote GP consultancies, and the gradual shift of appropriate services to online platforms. But this next phase, enhancing the delivery workflows, means that the supporting infrastructure, both in the practice and at home, are fundamentally changing the way that care is delivered.

Andre Van Gils

Medical grade technology has gradually been entering the home space. The GP’s tools are coming to us. Now, certified kits such as home blood pressure monitoring kits, oxygen saturation (SPO2) readers, or blood glucose readers are able to be prescribed and taken home, or even purchased outright. This in turn, has required a shift in empowerment onto the patient. They are more in control of their own health, more educated, more reassured.

Enhancing delivery workflows takes this concept a number of steps further. It explores how that information from those home readers automatically translates to the GP’s diagnoses or treatment programmes. With the right infrastructure and tools at both ends, that patient generated health data (PGHD) can automatically inform, shape and even generate complete treatment plans based on existing best practice guidelines.

Note that this is all about empowerment to both the patient and the practitioner, not about replacing anything. The treatment programmes are only suggestions that place the data and textbook response at the doctor’s fingertips so that they can make the right call based on their own experience. The by-product of this is faster, enhanced and more accurate care that frees up practitioners to focus on delivery and fine tuning. 

So can you give us any examples of it in practice? 

We have just launched a ground-breaking remote patient monitoring platform for hypertension that was designed to do just this, called Hypertension Plus. We’ve worked with the NHS to roll it out to over 150 UK practices in the initial phase, and we’re encouraging further clinical commission groups (CCGs), who are the bodies running the programme, to join the initiative.

Once rolled out across the UK, it is estimated that Hypertension Plus will save significant GP time and that up to a third of appointments for hypertension could be freed up, according to estimates by the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC).

So here is what that means for you. Participant practices and patients will be sending their blood pressure readings from home to the GP. The system then generates a tailored medication plan based on NICE guidelines, which are recommended to the GP for them to either approve or adjust as they see fit. The final treatment programme is then delivered back to the patient via the accompanying app on their phones along with instructions and context. This has the potential to save an already stretched practice huge amounts of time, while delivering more personalised care to the patient. It’s win win. 

The idea of integrating remote care has been around for a while. Why hasn’t it been addressed in full yet and what makes your example the exception?

A huge challenge has been funding and business models. The NHS for example is a publically funded organisation. And as such, we don’t want to see it taken advantage of by the private sector. But the eternal question is, how do we incentivise the private sector – which holds all the leading technology – to get involved, develop and proliferate this sort of technology without breaking the care provider’s bank? The NHS alone doesn’t have the funding or people power to invest in to this level of R&D in house, nor the capital to outsource it. 

In our instance, we are fortunate to be an established, large technology company. With our experience and scalability that many very innovative, but smaller companies lack, we are able to support initiatives like this one. But this just isn’t  possible for every business. There is no silver bullet.

How do we make it feasible?

It is ultimately about collaboration and making that work for all parties. Being able to quantify impact and expected return on investment is key. With Hypertension Plus, for example, research from the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) has enabled us to estimate that we can relieve GPs from up to a third of hypertension appointments while improving care. Having that level of transparency and quantifiable success makes having these conversations much easier as, at the end of the day, we’re allowing them to reprioritise on delivering more personalised care.

There’s also seeing the value-add to the private sector from these partnerships. Provided the service is delivered in a private (if not anonymised) and sensitive way, being able to see the in-field impact on things like medication treatment adherence and treatment titration of a particular drug can have huge upstream impact on private organisations in pharma for example. 

But there also has to be the willingness from the private sector to take on this shared responsibility for the patient’s health. It must accept compromises and ways to make life easier for service providers. This can often be achieved by looking to peers and coming together to form synergistic partnerships that increase value delivery tenfold.

There’s also the need to empower and educate the patients. They need to feel confident that the service they’re getting is just as good if not better, and trust that they themselves can accurately and consistently contribute valuable data toward their treatment plans.

In short, it’s all about responsibility across the healthcare value chain – patient, service provider and third parties. We must work together to achieve our shared goal; healthier patients and longer, more enjoyable lives without compromise

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