In this article we explore digital health company Elaros’ platform, the C19-YRS, a digital solution centred around the original COVID-19 Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale (‘C19-YRS’), the world’s first clinically validated long-COVID specific outcome measure which has been recommended for use by NHS England and NICE, 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’ – a complex condition with a variety of symptoms which persist for longer than 12 weeks after the initial COVID infection which is difficult to understand for each patient.
To help tackle this issue, Elaros, has developed an app that enables patients to track their symptoms and monitor their recovery and supports healthcare services to manage large numbers of patients who have the condition via a clinical web portal.
The app is helping to tackle the growing waiting lists for services which normally require 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 July 2022. NHS England’s contribution for post-COVID clinics now totals £224 million for the period October 2020 to March 2023.
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.
In July 2021 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.
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.
Already implemented in a number of trusts including Leeds, Airedale, Liverpool, Salford Royal, Pennine Acute, Cambridge and Peterborough, Wiltshire, Cheshire, Leicester, Birmingham, Newcastle, and NHS Highland, the system has been shown to reduce the burden on staff and shorten waiting times for patients. The platform will soon be distributed in Sheffield Children’s Hospital, University College London’s paediatric clinic, Leeds Children’s Hospital Trust, NHS Lanarkshire, Sussex, Ipswich and Suffolk, and an ICS-wide rollout across Lancashire & South Cumbria.
We spoke to Elaros’ Research and Development Manager, Román Rocha Lawrence, who said: “With Elaros being a Sheffield-based company and naturally considering that the system is called the ‘Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale’, we are 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 up until now. However, now that long COVID is gaining national attention, and following the July 2022 release of NHS England’s guidance for post-COVID clinics on how to deliver their service with a further £90 million available in funding, clinics will hopefully be able to bolster their services with systems like Elaros’.”
Elaros has recently had recognition in The NHS Plan for improving long COVID services which recommended the company’s system as a vehicle to collect the NHS’ recommended other outcome measures to enable evaluation of their service and the interventions provided.
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.”