With the creation of a platform which allows clinicians to monitor patients remotely, enabling greater freedom and independence for patients, Luscii’s international expansion has stepped up significantly through the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on digital healthcare. Health Tech World meets its founder and CEO, Professor Daan Dohmen
From his early experience of working part-time in a nursing home came a realisation that patients could and should play a more active role in their care and health.
“For me, that was a really important step in my vision to use technology to help regain people’s independence,” says Professor Daan Dohmen.
“The nursing home had all good intentions but took away the independence of people living there – they put them in the shower, they did everything.
“There was one day that I took an 82-year-old lady from the nursing home to a grocery store one block away. We weren’t supposed to do that as there was a store in the nursing home, but I said ‘Let’s go together’ and took her there in a wheelchair.
“She said to me ‘Daan, this was the nicest thing to happen to me in ten years’ – and that made me think even more about how we can use technology to provide freedom to people who may not have that.”
And from that realisation has grown Luscii, a platform which enables home monitoring for patients, allowing clinicians to keep check from afar without the need for them to come in to hospital.
Founded in the Netherlands, it is now used in seven countries across Europe and Africa, including in the NHS, Luscii – named in tribute to Florence Nightingale, derived from the Latin ‘luscinia’ – is enabling a new digital approach to healthcare.
Powered by its Clinical Engine, the use of AI supports and alerts healthcare providers when intervention may be needed, and contact can be made immediately via message or video connection.
Clinicians can monitor patients remotely via a dashboard, using Luscii’s concept of virtual wards to correlate data and alerts for multiple patients, and then responding with intervention whenever required.
“For managers of Trusts and CCGs, they understand this can help increase capacity and help with waiting lists, but it is even more important from the patients’ perspective in unlocking the power for them to use the tools independently,” says Daan.
“And for doctors and nurses, who we call our ‘medical developers’, they can build their own digital pathway with e-learning modules and algorithms for their patients.”
With the launch of Luscii in a pre-COVID-19 era, in 2018, the events of the past year have seen the platform take on an even more fundamental role in healthcare.
“COVID really pushed the concept of digital,” says Daan.
“We’d seen a lot of doctors and nurses who were quite anxious about digital health, thinking is it clinically relevant, will it lead to ‘cold care’? Often if a patient said they wanted to try digital apps, the doctor would say ‘That’s nice, but I don’t think it’s for you’.
“The past year has forced clinicians to try digital means, and suddenly they are finding out that this can be beneficial in certain situations.
“Through our virtual wards, we were able to support the early discharge and triage of COVID patients – sometimes it was 11 days earlier when patients could go home.”
And its response to COVID, which saw it develop the Corona Check app – which enabled hundreds of thousands of people to submit health data daily from their homes, allowing healthcare providers to determine who may have COVID-19 and who needed most immediate care – has been acknowledged with the Prix Galien Excellence COVID-19 MedTech Award.
“We got out the digital Lego box and built a COVID app – we now have 20million registrations on that platform,” he says.
Born out of his previous business FocusCura, a healthtech which uses smart tools to promote the autonomy of vulnerable people, Luscii continues to grow, particularly in light of the new-found digital adoption within healthcare.
Now in seven countries – five of which came in during COVID – with its native Netherlands and the UK being some of the earlier adopters. Currently, it is used in more than half of all Dutch hospitals and was pioneered in the NHS by the All Together Better alliance in Sunderland, supporting elderly patients with chronic illnesses at home.
And it was among elderly people, inspired by his experience of the nursing home, that Luscii’s potential was initially realised.
“A lot of elderly people with chronic diseases had to go to hospital all the time, they often had to arrange for a family member to take them there, then they would get to hospital only for ten minutes later to be back outside as they were fine and able to leave. The rest of the week they’d be too tired to do anything,” says Daan.
“We came up with the idea of how to support people with chronic illnesses to have remote check-ups. This was at a time when iPads had just launched and video calls were happening. But what started as a project got bigger and bigger so we had to split off independently.”
And from its origins in supporting elderly people, the roll-out is now including a much wider area of healthcare, as its role in COVID has helped to demonstrate.
“Once we have virtual wards, people can understand how they could be used in other areas,” says Daan,
“It’s a personal dream of mine that doctors create these programmes and share between them. Through collaboration, it becomes bigger than a product – it is a movement.”
Going forward, with the potential for digital healthcare continuing to be realised, the ongoing international roll-out is set to continue for Luscii.
“We are now in seven countries worldwide, four of which we haven’t been to physically, the roll-out has all been done virtually,” says Daan.
“We have shown we can scale quickly so we can support more patients in more areas.”