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Protecting the vulnerable with digital innovation

Written by: Ellen Barnes - 16th March 2021

In this blog, Ellen Barnes, programme manager, explores some of the ingenious innovations that support the most vulnerable patients by providing remote monitoring in the comfort of their own home.

We all know that prevention is better than cure and by now we are all too familiar with keeping our distance to protect others and how important it is to stay home. For the majority of us, it is tough but doable. Now let’s say, you have a medical condition needing regular check-ups and monitoring that before COVID was not a problem. Now the most vulnerable are at greater risk and there are more contagious mutations popping up with alarming speed. Apart from a vaccine, what can be done to protect the vulnerable, healthcare staff as well as patients/carers and families? How do we support care from a distance and reduce the risk of COVID?

With digital innovation, new technology, collaboration, determination, passion, and commitment.

To build on the health gains achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate the use of digital innovations to support the Joined-Up Care Programme (NHS England/Improvement and NHSX’s rapid response to COVID-19), the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN were asked to identify technology to support managing patients in their own homes. Yorkshire & Humber identified the TytoPro™ and TytoHome™ device after a pilot in the Paediatric department at Bradford Teaching Hospital when COVID hit in March last year.

The device (a beautiful piece of kit, in my opinion) is a wireless, handheld examination device that let you perform medical examinations anytime, anywhere, for the ear, throat, lungs, heart, temperature, skin and abdomen. These examinations can be on-line, live with a medical professional, or can be recorded by the patient, parent or carer and uploaded to a secure platform for review by the clinical teams. Tyto can be used to diagnose a range of acute conditions such as colds, flu, ear infections, bronchitis and sore throats. It can also be used for monitoring and managing patients with chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), high blood pressure, asthma, congestive heart failure, eczema and diabetes.

There are two types of devices, TytoHome™ aimed for use in a patient’s home and the TytoPro™ device, designed for use by professionals in a clinic or community setting.

We have 14 healthcare providers across the region, engaged and enthusiastic about using the devices with plenty of ideas on how these could be used to provide remote monitoring, healthcare services and protect the vulnerable. These ideas fit perfectly with the project’s aim to develop case studies and recommendations for how Tyto can reduce the need for healthcare admissions and in-person attendances and enhance the care that can be provided for patients remotely, including patients who are at the end of life, have long-term conditions or have recently been discharged from hospital.

Never before has it been more important to rapidly change the way services are delivered, embrace technology and innovation and support remote monitoring and care.

I’m thrilled to be supporting such a fantastic project and must acknowledge the amazing collaboration from all our healthcare providers keen to be involved, our key stakeholders (ICS Regional Leads), procurement support from Leeds Teaching Hospital, (we couldn’t have done this without them), mHabitat who are providing co-design expertise and engagement with patients and families to develop recommendations for digital inclusion, TytoCare and of course, NHS England/Improvement and NHSX. Thank you so much for all your support.

In this video created by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, you can see how the device works.