Eight-month trial in Bristol shows GP contacts reduced by a third and patient activation levels increased to 56%
Patients may benefit from using a package of technology, education and support from clinicians known as ‘supported self-care’ to empower them to manage their health needs more effectively at home, a new report suggests.
Our vision for the future is one where patients are able to self-care as much as possible, in the comfort of their own home, and with support from community healthcare staff, and contacts with GPs and hospitals is minimised
The report highlights the outcomes of an eight-month Champion Project where supported self-care was implemented among a small cohort of patients in one GP surgery in Bristol.
The project was run by the social enterprise Bristol Community Health in partnership with Philips Healthcare and the Lennard Surgery Practice, and was funded by the West of England Academic Health Science Network.
A total of 93 patients were enrolled at three different levels of service, depending on their disease acuity and personal preferences.
Different technologies were offered to patients to enable them to learn more about their condition and/or submit vital readings in their own home. All three levels of service were connected to a clinical hub, enabling staff to monitor readings and provide further support as required.
At the end of the year, a range of outcomes were reported:
Due to the small sample size, no statistical claims are made of this data, but the results are consistent with statistically-significant results obtained elsewhere.
A range of positive benefits was also reported through interviews with patients.
“It’s made me more aware of my own condition. I’ve learnt to read the signs and I’m able to judge when I need to contact someone,” said one patient.
Heart failure patient, Gordon Hennessy, added: “I’ve found it reassuring. This scheme gives you confidence. If there’s anything wrong my nurse will pick it up or my doctor will pick it up.”
I know from directly talking to patients how much they appreciated the monitoring and how much confidence it gave them to manage their condition at home
The partnership is now exploring whether an extended model for supported self-care, involving patients with differing health conditions, might be feasible across the whole city. To aid this, two new videos have also been released to explain the concept of supported self-care to GPs and local commissioners.
Lennard Surgery Practice GP, Dr Gareth Ronson, said: “I know from directly talking to patients how much they appreciated the monitoring and how much confidence it gave them to manage their condition at home.
“Just this week, I visited a gentleman who was sad to see the project finish, but had continued to record his data despite the end of the project, and he directly commented on his increased confidence. I’m sure there will be more of this type of supported self-care in the future and it will help motivate and support patients to improve their medical conditions.”
Julia Clarke, chief executive of Bristol Community Health, added: “We’re really excited by the outcomes of our supported self-care partnership project. There’s a growing and important role for technology and education in empowering patients to take control of their own health, and these initial outcomes support this. Our vision for the future is one where patients are able to self-care as much as possible, in the comfort of their own home, and with support from community healthcare staff, and contacts with GPs and hospitals is minimised. This work will help us achieve that.”
And Malcolm Hart, senior director of Hospital to Home at Philips, said: “This collaborative project has demonstrated valuable new insights on how people living with long-term conditions can be supported to self-care more effectively. This is a win-win for patients and the health system– better quality of life, and improved health outcomes, at lower cost.”