“We are seeing a revolution in patient care, led by advanced technology and miniaturisation. This has made possible affordable, high quality, extremely precise clinical instruments which clinicians can use to make point of care decisions about patient care which would previously have needed specialist input or hospital referrals. This revolution heralds the advent of ‘precision medicine,’ where patients and those who care for them will have access to far more data, enabling better, more timely health and lifestyle decisions.”Shaun O'Hanlon
Integrated devices are integral to bringing about joined-up and effective care. They are at the forefront of spurring innovation and improvement within the healthcare sector, by helping clinicians to take more accurate and efficient test readings – and by giving patients more comfort and security in their quality of care. Whether it be in the physical devices that take patient readings, or in the software that seamlessly transmits that data to a patient record, integrated devices are allowing the health sector to refine the care they provide.
Often developed by clinicians, these devices are created to solve problems that those who work in healthcare face every day. To get a grasp on exactly how integrated devices are helping patients, we’ve spoken to some of the leaders in the field.
Helping patients to feel comfortable
At the core of what integrated devices can achieve is better comfort for patients throughout their healthcare journey. Through quicker testing and more mobile solutions, patients are spending less time in healthcare facilities. As Microlife’s Edward Gammans mentions, these days testing “can be done in the privacy of your home.” HealthSTATS UK’s BPro and Microlife’s Watch BP range of professional blood pressure monitors allow patients to be tested away from clinics, with the results then synced up at a later time. Alan Ho, CEO of HealthSTATS UK, points out that through this kind of mobile assessment, patients can “go about their daily routine,” minimising the intrusion that testing can create.
Improved patient comfort is something that can be achieved in healthcare facilities as well, right at the initial point of assessment. With a whole host of integrated devices available to primary care providers, tests can be conducted within the practice, with readings almost instantly linked up to a patient record. This allows results to be viewed by “specialists in the hospital, or by third party providers before the need to refer the patient,” mentions Stuart Hildage of Vitalograph – producer of both the Spirotac and Compact. Through effective recording and data sharing, test results can be viewed across multiple care settings after being taken in practices, reducing the need for additional appointments.
And as Simon Healy, Managing Director of Numed recognises, additional appointments “can lead to wasted time and unnecessary stress for patients who may have to be retested.” Through testing taking place in a “very simple and efficient way,” as noted by Richard Haynes of Intermedical – maker of the Easy-On Spirometer – integrated devices are leading the way in ensuring that patients are thoroughly assessed in the most comfortable way possible.
With an impressive tally of experience between them, those who we spoke to have had ample time to review and refine the intricate workings and algorithms that make up these devices. Through this knowledge, they have evolved to become ever-more accurate.
Although patient comfort can be improved through reduced assessment time, this lowered time is vital to ensuring that healthcare providers’ resources are being used effectively. As Stuart Hildage points out, “a surprisingly high percentage – as much as 40% – of patients are referred to hospitals for further testing, but are ultimately found to have no significant health condition.”
Through accurate testing, integrated devices can achieve readings that allow for more precise assessment and diagnosis. These devices are helping to move healthcare beyond what Alan Ho mentions was “traditionally” done before – prescribing “medication or further tests” when symptoms were noticed. By using integrated devices, unnecessary referrals and prolonged testing can be reduced, and a fuller picture of diagnosis can be created.
Connected and attentive care
Accuracy from these devices also appears in the way that they generate reports and data, which can feed in to patient records to create a complete picture of care for clinicians across all health settings. All of the devices that we’ve mentioned have the ability to create data that syncs with clinical systems – like EMIS Web – to update patient records.
This automatically generated data – that often includes defined Read Codes and PDF reports – can be essential in helping clinicians manage their workloads. Simon Healy of Numed, whose i3 technology is designed to link devices to medical records, notes that more time can be spent with patients when the “time consuming process” of “manual entry” is eliminated. Richard Haynes agrees, noting that “integration into EMIS Web saves several minutes of a nurse’s time.” By removing manual data input, clinicians are given the opportunity to spend more time with their patients.
With automated data, a standard of health reporting is also created that gives clinicians an easily understandable record of past testing. Reporting accuracy within the patients’ clinical record is also improved, with the removal of human error from data input.
All of these benefits of integrated devices stack together to create what Alan Ho calls “seamless integration,” all designed to “make life a bit easier” for clinicians. Healthcare professionals across all care settings have the ability to quickly report test readings whilst being able to easily see – and understand – a patient’s healthcare path.
“We are delighted to be working with our partners to bring innovative, high quality new products to market which facilitate better point of care clinical decisions. What is particularly attractive about these products is that they are integrated with the GP clinical system – this means that clinical information collected by these products will flow seamlessly into EMIS Web and form an integral part of the patient’s clinical record.”Shaun O'Hanlon
Where integrated devices can go next
Integrated devices are consistently being updated and evolved in order to meet the needs of the clinicians that use them and the patients that they help. The future, as Simon Healy notes, is “an exciting opportunity for integrated devices.”
One of the goals that those in the field want to achieve is even greater connectivity and interoperability. BPro’s Alan Ho hopes that cloud technology will be fully taken advantage of. Although HealthSTATS UK already has the technology in place – which allows the BPo’s ABPM test results to be pushed to medical records in real time – it is yet to integrate this functionality with clinical systems. An even more joined-up care system is something that Simon Healy also looks to, noting that patient results from primary care will be able to be sent with i3 to secondary care experts via N3, resulting in patients “only being sent to hospital when absolutely necessary.”
Some of those that we spoke to are examining how their devices will be serving changing patient demographics. Stuart Hildage highlights that, “with an ever-increasing ageing population, there will be an inevitable corresponding increase in chronic conditions.” To help deal with this rising health problem, Stuart envisages that there will be a deployment of more mobile devices – like Vitalograph’s medical tablet, Compact – to allow healthcare professionals to visit elderly patients. He also raises how, by “monitoring” such chronic conditions, “further advances in how we manage and re-test patients” will evolve, assisting in the future development of products like their spirometry solution, Spirotac.
This greater mobility of integrated devices is also how Edward Gammans envisions the future, noting that “everyone” will have be able to test from home – using devices like Watch BP – therefore “alleviating pressure on GP’s.”
Whether in the future or now, integrated devices are giving clinicians accurate and informative testing opportunities. By improving patient experience and helping to create a thorough history of a patient’s journey, these devices are leading the way in bringing about better patient care.
You can view our range of integrated devices here, alternatively if you have any questions speak to one of our team on 0845 124 5245.