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Supporting patients with Long Covid

Posted: 2nd August 2021

In this article we explore digital health company Elaros’ new platform, C19-YRS – the world’s first long-covid specific outcome measure which has been recommended for use by NHS England, funded by the NIHR, and endorsed by the British Society for Rehabilitation Medicine.

More than 2,000,000 people in the UK are estimated to have had ‘long Covid’ for longer than 12 weeks – a condition with a variety of persistent symptoms that are difficult to understand for each patient.

To help tackle this issue, Elaros, has developed an app and web portal that enables patients to track their recovery and supports NHS rehabilitation services to manage the large number of people who have the condition.

The app is helping to address the growing need to assess and monitor patients with long covid as it requires significant one-to-one clinician time which costs money, and more importantly, time away from patients with other conditions with built-up waiting times due to the pandemic.

Designed in a partnership with The University of Leeds, Leeds Community Healthcare, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trusts, Elaros’ app digitises the Covid-19 Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale which has been recommended for the monitoring of Long Covid in NHS England’s National guidance for post-COVID syndrome assessment clinics, published in April 2021. The guidance followed NHS England and NHS Improvement’s contribution of a further £24 million in March 2021 for post-COVID assessment clinics to support the demand for these services.

As long covid continues to be a growing problem, the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN is working with Elaros to bring the solution to the attention of regional stakeholders responsible for covid-recovery clinics.

Recently, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has awarded a project to a consortium led by The University of Leeds alongside Imperial College, The University of Oxford, and Elaros as an industrial partner, which is focused on the optimisation of treatments and services for long Covid across the NHS.

The £3,700,000 grant will see Elaros’ C19-YRS digital platform used in 10 NHS sites covering all 4 UK nations to gather patient data to quickly devise ways of supporting the nearly 2 million patients in the UK that have long Covid and to develop the platform further.

The system is used for the remote assessment, triage, and management of patients with long covid and helps to support their recovery. Patients can routinely update the app with information which will show their progress over time using simple yet powerful reporting tools.

Already implemented in a number of trusts including Leeds Community Healthcare, Airedale, Liverpool, and Salford Royal, initial data is currently being collected to measure the impact of the solution.

1-2-1 assessments with patients using the digital platform are quicker – taking 10 minutes compared to 60-90-minute-long assessments using the PDF C19-YRS or a combination of other non-Covid specific symptoms assessments which require staff to manually upload the results to the patient’s record.

We spoke to Elaros’ Research and Development Manager, Román Rocha Lawrence, who said:With Elaros being a Sheffield-based company and given that the system is called the ‘Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale’, we are naturally very keen to see the platform adopted widely across Yorkshire and Humber and have an impact close to home.

A major barrier to adoption for Trusts has been limited guidance and funding for their long Covid services. However, now that Long Covid is gaining national attention, over £134 million has recently been made available to improve the delivery of treatment and services using systems like ours. The C19-YRS has been recommended by NHS England in its National Guidance, recognised by the NIHR and NICE, and has been adopted across the UK and globally.”

Sophie Bates, Programme Manager at the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN said, “It’s great to see that that a locally developed tool is being recognised for its benefits in being able to monitor patients with long-covid in a systematic and robust way which has the potential to contribute to the healthcare system’s growing understanding of the condition.”