NHS Trusts' collaboration brings digital health to North East England

By Dave Muoio
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National Health Service Trusts located in England’s North East region have announced a partnership focused on broadened implementation of digital health strategies.

NHS Health Call was initially established by the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, and relied on technologies developed by Harrogate, England-based remote patient monitoring company Inhealthcare. The Trust has now awarded shares in Health Call to five neighboring NHS acute trusts located in the North East in return for active participation in the digital health initiative.

“The company is a vehicle for redefining best practice, recognizing specialities and accessing the diversity of care expertise in the North East which has a population of over three million,” Health Call Director Ian Dove said in a statement. “Health Call will enable professionals in the North East and across the UK, to implement digital care at scale, supporting care organizations to design, develop, and implement digital care services at speed.”

In his statement, Dove explained how the County Durham and Darlington Trust offered in-home pin prick blood sampling to patients taking Warfarin. By submitting the blood sample remotely using a handheld device, nurse specialists are able to read results and offer guidance without the need for patients to regularly attend a clinic. Dove said that the system has been very well received by patients and can be used to enable weight loss or other dieting goals. The Trust has already sold the technology to other NHS organizations, but sees the Health Call collaboration as the next step toward better implementation of similar digital strategies.

“The NHS in the North East is very good at collaboration and sharing ideas and services to make sure our patients get the very best care possible,” Dove said. “It makes sense to extend this into the digital age so when one trust identifies an opportunity to use technology we’ll all be able to use it.  This avoids the risk of wasting time and resources that are potentially duplicating development across organizations.”

Along with County Durham and Darlington, the other participating North East Trusts include Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“This is a bold and forward thinking step which I’m immensely proud of,” Sue Jacques, chief executive of the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said in a statement. “Sharing knowledge and expertise is transforming the experience and care provided to patients across many of our services.”