‘Test Beds’ are new collaborations between the NHS and innovators which aim to harness technology to address some of the most complex issues facing patients and the health service. Successful innovations will then be available for other parts of the country to adopt and adapt to the particular needs of their local populations.
The ‘Perfect Patient Pathway’, as the Sheffield City region Test Bed will be known, aims to create the ‘perfect patient pathway’ to bring substantial benefits for patients suffering from long term health conditions, such as diabetes, mental health problems, respiratory disease, hypertension and other chronic conditions.
New technology coupled with new ways of delivering care will be used to keep patients with these conditions well at home, often avoiding the need for hospital admission or further support.
A range of home-based monitoring devices and smart phone apps will mean patients can be supported to understand their condition and how they can manage it at home. Data received from these devices will then be collated and interpreted in an integrated intelligence centre to assess individual patient wellbeing and anticipate changing demands and patterns of care requirements in long term conditions both at patient and at a regional level, enabling a timely and effective response.
The ‘Perfect Patient Pathway’ Test Bed involves more than 30 partners including the region’s NHS, Social Care, Industry, Academic and Voluntary organisations.
By using new technology, the intention is to keep patients with these conditions well, independent and avoiding crisis points which often result in hospital admission, intensive rehabilitation and a high level of social care support.
It will include monitoring falls risk, tracking locations for people with dementia as well as sensors in the home, for example, on televisions, kettles and fridges to monitor mobility, nutrition and general wellbeing.
Sir Andrew Cash, Chief Executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Perfect Patient Pathway test bed is a fantastic way of bringing together the region’s health and social care providers with a number of technology and research organisations. By utilising this expertise we will be able to share data and plan, in partnership with patients, the best way to deliver care to people with long term conditions based on their needs using the latest technology to support this.”
Roz Davies, a patient who lives with type 1 Diabetes added: “Many people in our region like me live with complex health conditions. We are all different but we all want to live as well and independently as possible. This is an opportunity to work together to unleash the potential of digital resources which could help us to feel more confident, informed, connected and in control of our health.”
John Mothersole, Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council said: “As one of the main social care providers in the area, we are always looking at how we can transform how we care and support people. A major part of this will be adopting new technologies and this test bed will allow us to work together with industry experts to provide an individualised approach that will help to keep people well in their own homes.”
Sir Keith Burnett, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield said: "The University's role as a lead evaluator of the technology and system change is critical not only to ensure the Test Bed improves health in our region, but also provides good economic value. A flagship for the Sheffield City Region's Care 2050 initiative, it demonstrates our ability to deliver the technologies and systems necessary for affordable and sustainable future healthcare."
Colin Lewry, Partner at GE Healthcare Finnamore said: “We look forward to using our knowledge and expertise to work with health and social care providers across the region to revolutionise the way care is delivered to people in their own homes and in the community through the use of new technology.”
Dr Des Breen, Medical Director for the Working Together Programme said: “This test bed has the potential to revolutionise the way healthcare is delivered. By reshaping the care pathways and with the aid of technology, patients will be empowered to take care of their own long term conditions. The care will be individual to their needs. It means that the treatment of their conditions can be delivered as close to the home as possible and for as long as appropriate. The new technology and care pathways will see a graded response in healthcare intervention depending on the health needs. This will start with the patient and family. This will deliver an appropriate level of care at the right time in the right place as early as possible".
Initially the Perfect Patient Pathway will focus on people with three or more long term conditions, the vision of the programme is to create a model that will support holistic care for people, irrespective of age or condition, and that will be available across the country.
Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive described the test beds as a key strand of the NHS Five Year Forward View, which will help realise the ambition of reforming the NHS so that it is fit to face the challenges of the 21st Century – particularly an ageing population and an increase in patients with long-term health conditions – while remaining financially sustainable.