Remote monitoring facilitates the management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Lloyd Bettell-HigginsCase Study

Luton and Dunstable NHS Foundation Trust started using Patients Know Best (PKB) to remotely monitor patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

There are two key elements to this model: Firstly, there is a national database register which holds data on all IBD patients throughout Great Britain, endorsed by the Royal College of Physicians and The British Society of Gastroenterology. The second element is the PKB digital platform which gives patients a personalised view of their condition.

Empowering patients and professionals

Luton and Dunstable wanted to help IBD patients monitor their symptoms, decide when they need to go to the hospital and seek information and advice about what they could do to avoid another visit. They also wanted to enable healthcare professionals to proactively care for patients that need additional support.

PKB has been used by patients to undertake routine monitoring (e.g., blood pressure, weight, etc), symptomatic assessments, with tailored advice being provided, to obtain test results and communicate with their clinical teams.

When users log into the portal they can track their symptoms and clinical staff are notified about how the patient is doing. The portal also generates advice sheets to help with self-management.

Remote monitoring

Lead Gastroenterology Consultant at Luton and Dunstable, Dr Matthew Johnson, has led the project and said: “There’s a direct link to the hospital. Anyone scoring low is added to a workload sheet so when the nurses log in to their system, they can see a list of patients that need additional support. Using the Internet and the electronic monitoring system enables the patient to monitor their inflammatory bowel disease condition from the comfort of their own home.”

The hospital gave all 2814 patients access to their own records. Out of those, they aimed to discharge 800 of those patients, allowing them to be managed by the system and be assessed via the virtual clinic through the national database. The trust also rolled out the system to three other trusts before going live nationally, and GP’s were also given access to personalised patient management plans.

Huge savings to be made

Dr Johnson suggested the trust could save around 1200 outpatient appointments a year. He said: “Not only does it save patients having to come into hospital but also allows us to see when patients flare up, so we can see them within 48 hours rather than generate clinic appointments.”

This means that patients who still need to attend clinical appointments would still be able to so, but for those who did not, the portal was a safe way of remotely managing their condition. Dr Johnson added: “You can apply the concept to any long term illness.”

The Medical School at the University of Leicester – ranked one of the country’s top ten institutions for studying medicine, put online consultation at the heart of its teaching curriculum for first year medical students – a first for any university in the UK. The university is using PKB to teach students how to hold online consultations with ‘virtual patients’, which are ordinary people who simulate live consultation scenarios.