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Health Call scoops top award


Dec 10, 2021

An innovative healthcare organisation that’s using digital technology to improve patient care has won two prestigious awards.

Health Call has landed two “NHS in the North Excellence in Supply Award” for developing a range of Digital Care Home solutions that are helping care home staff to remotely monitor residents’ health, quickly identify signs of illness, and make electronic referrals to the appropriate NHS service.

The Gateshead-based organisation was named overall Supplier of the Year and Patient Experience Award Winner in this year’s awards, which celebrate inspirational collaborations between the NHS and its suppliers across the North of England – many prompted by the fight against COVID-19.

With almost 4,000 people now registered on the Digital Care Home system, the innovation has enabled more than 30,000 referrals to be made, cut community nurse visits by 30% and saved the NHS around £8 million due to a reduction in unnecessary hospital stays.

Digital Care Home technology enables care home staff to keep track of basic health information such as blood pressure and heart rate. This data is then automatically submitted electronically into the patient’s NHS care record. The technology also allows staff to detect if health indicators are outside the normal range and flag this up with a community nurse.

Nurses can give immediate advice over the phone or organise a face-to-face consultation if needed. This allows problems to be treated quickly so they don’t become an emergency – meaning there’s less chance of patients becoming seriously ill and having to go into hospital.

The technology has been developed by Durham County Council and the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, which is part of Health Call, a collaboration of seven NHS foundation trusts across the North East and North Cumbria.

COVID-19 has accelerated the roll-out of Digital Care Home, which is now live in 94 care homes for older people, two specialist learning disability care homes and seven additional care establishments. The product is currently being rolled out across a further 300 care homes in South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle and South Tees.

Ian Dove, founding director of Health Call, said: “Initially we wanted to roll out Digital Care Home within two years to support technology adoption in care homes for older people. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this process and we achieved the roll-out in just 14 months. We’re thrilled that this achievement has been recognised in the form of these two prestigious awards.

“We’re continually innovating and have developed Digital Care Home to include wound care, which allows wound photos to be uploaded directly to the patient’s records so nurses can give advice remotely. We’ve also created an undernutrition service that enables healthcare professionals to monitor a patient’s weight and appetite to see whether or not their nutritional plan is effective in reducing the risks caused by malnutrition. The ability to use the system for video consultation to simplify the user experience has been introduced and we’ve also released a process for COVID-19 resident testing where electronic referrals can be made through Digital Care Home.

“Our technology has had a hugely positive impact in many ways. It has made it easier for care providers to make quality referrals and reduced the amount of time they spend on the telephone, freeing up their capacity to deliver direct care. It has also given patients better access to care, made it easier to identify signs of deterioration in a patient’s health, and reduced unnecessary hospital admissions to ease some of the pressure on the NHS.”

By admin