The proactive management of people with long-term conditions, including the promotion of self-care for patients, is a priority for the NHS. In fact, more personalised care where the patient is engaged in their health management has been discussed as a fundamental factor in ensuring the sustainability of healthcare systems across the globe.
It’s no secret that health and social care providers are under immense pressure from the increase in long-term and co-morbid conditions and the role of the patient is no longer as a passive recipient of care. However, despite the consensus that self-care is the right trajectory, the realities of moving individuals towards this level of engagement are challenging. This is both in terms of patient motivation and care providers potentially lacking the financial and capacity resources to innovate in participatory patient management.
Recent technology advancements have created the capability for patients to self-care and understand more about their conditions. Even so, questions remain around what opportunity or choice patients are being given to access this technology. For example, does the doctor/patient relationship need to evolve to more of a care partnership for genuine patient engagement to succeed? Do commissioners and service providers need to support and influence primary care to become more proactive in the promotion of self-care?
As an innovative business in the health technology industry we have been working with our 2,700 NHS customers and patient cohorts to understand the barriers to the uptake of self-care with a view to developing solutions which could overcome these barriers. Our research has revealed that although some people with long-term conditions wanted to be more actively involved in either monitoring or managing their own condition, their health service provider is not always flexible or informed enough to offer this choice.
Dr Mark Sullivan, our Medical Director says:
“We asked ourselves – how could we equip care teams with the skills and resources to motivate and support patients to self-care safely?
…The problems we encountered from the care team’s perspective were generally those around time and money – already squeezed for resource, a typical GP practice would not want to spend precious time training and setting up patients with devices or technology, nor would they necessarily have the technical skills to do so. Although many clinicians we interviewed liked the idea of offering patients the freedom to self-care, there were also concerns over visibility and control so that they could be sure of their patients’ clinical safety and health outcomes.
From the individual’s point of view, there were concerns around not being sufficiently connected to their care teams, getting the support they were used to, or whether they would have the knowledge, skills and confidence to self-care safely.”
These challenges inspired us at LumiraDx Care Solutions to work with patients and care teams to design a self-care technology platform, aptly named “engage”, to give individuals the all-important knowledge, skills and confidence to self-care whilst also having the vital connectivity to, and guidance of, their care teams. engage also motivates individuals to understand and improve their health management rather than simply recording and tracking data – which many health apps already offer in isolation from the patient’s care team.
Our ground-breaking, cloud-based technology connects the patient with their clinician via seamless data flow between the easy-to-use patient app and the care team’s patient record in the clinical software thus achieving an unrivalled patient experience.
Dr Mark continues:
“The difference with engage is that it has built-in connectivity, full training and education for the patient so that their self-care is continually supported and therefore safer. The care team has the visibility of the patient’s progress through training, health data and feedback or concerns can be flagged for action via the app updating the clinical system. It’s really a pretty clever innovation.”
‘engage‘ currently supports clinical management and self-care for all anticoagulation therapies including the newer drugs (DOACs), and is being developed to support a range of other conditions including COPD, diabetes, heart failure and comorbidities.