Sunderland is the first place in the country to pilot a new healthcare app that allows patients with debilitating breathing problems to monitor their vital signs and visually consult with healthcare professionals, from the comfort of their own home.

All Together Better Sunderland has identified the Luscii platform, which enables patients with breathing difficulties to manage their condition, monitor their vital signs, socially connect with their community and speak to their medical team via chat or video technology. The platform has already proved to be an enormous success in The Netherlands, where it is used by almost 50% of hospitals to support patients remotely and prevent hospitalisation.

Sunderland is the first in the country to pilot this new healthcare innovation, as part of its aim to deliver better and more responsive community based health and care services and tackle health inequalities.

The Luscii app, which was developed by Amsterdam based Luscii healthtech BV and has never before been used in England, is designed specifically for those with long-term progressive diseases, such as COPD and congestive heart failure. The technology, which is supported by Apple as part of their global Apple Mobility Programme, gives a range of health and social care professionals quick virtual access to patients so they can monitor their condition and ensure that all aspects of their care – from rehabilitation to more specialised care – is co-ordinated with the patient able to stay independent and in their own home. The app also allows patients to access a range of resources to help them monitor their condition under the watchful eye of health professionals and book virtual appointments that will assist them with their recovery.

The pilot will initially support 50 patients in Sunderland who are under the care of All Together Better’s Recovery at Home Service.

Each patient will receive an iPad pre-installed with the easy to use Luscii iOS app and be trained on how to measure and input important health readings, such as blood pressure and heart rate along with how they are feeling generally. The readings are then monitored daily by health professionals, who can message or video call the patient should they have any concerns and asses if further treatment is required.

The technology is building on Sunderland’s aspirations to be a healthcare innovator and will create a blueprint for the future care of patients with long-term conditions and support them to manage their health effectively at home and retain their independence. It will also allow health professionals to track patient’s readings remotely, have regular check-ups by video call and intervene at an early stage if needed to prevent them falling ill and requiring further hospital admission.

In addition, the iPads will be used to support patient’s general health and wellbeing, giving them the option to download a range of apps that can support them with a range of things like healthy eating, stopping smoking and connecting with others to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

Luscii is one of a number of technology-led interventions being rolled out in the city as part of the All Together Better (ATB).  All Together Better brings together health and social care providers, the local council and commissioning organisations in Sunderland to deliver personalised, pro-active and joined-up out of hospital care for people in the city, with a key focus on how better use of technology can support people at home.

The pilot is a collaboration between All Together Better partners, including Sunderland Care and Support and South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, which is one of a handful of Global Digital Exemplars (GDEs) –Trusts that are spearheading digital transformation across the NHS. Sunderland City Council has also played an instrumental part in securing the pilot in Sunderland through the work it has done via the Digital Cities Challenge.

Dr Martin Weatherhead, Chair of All Together Better, said: “We know that technology has huge capacity to transform health and social care in Sunderland. Luscii is a great example of how innovation in healthcare can help us to transform how we monitor and treat patients in their own homes and prevent unnecessary appointments and hospital visits.

“Sunderland is once again leading the way and using innovation and technology in a way that is not used anywhere else in the country. We are really looking forward to understanding the impact that Luscii has on the lives of those with long-term conditions, such as COPD and exploring how this app could respond to other health needs that also require ongoing support.”

Dr Weatherhead said that Sunderland has been quick to adopt Apple Partner technology, which he believes could transform care for a range of health needs in the city.

He added: “We really are embracing new technologies to support people to manage their health and conditions independently and this early adoption means that we are well-placed to really pioneer a new approach that enables people to stay independent, at home, for longer.”

Dr Daan Dohmen the founder of Luscii, which already supports thousands of patients in Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands, said: “We are thrilled to work together with the team in Sunderland to bring our platform to the UK for the first time ever. The vision of integrated care in the region links well with our vision of how we can empower patients, their loved ones and the care team of doctors and nurses with modern technology to manage conditions directly in their own home.

“In The Netherlands research shows that users of the Luscii platform have far fewer hospital admissions or A&E visits and these reductions are achieved while increasing quality of life. We believe that, working together with the Sunderland team, this can be achieved in the UK as well.”

All Together Better is an alliance of local health and social care services working as an integrated ‘out of hospital’ system. By working in a much more joined up way, it supports Sunderland residents and patients  with long term illness, health problems, mental health issues and disabilities to access care as close to home as possible and live healthy, independent lives.

To find out more about All Together Better and what it is doing to transform health and social care for people in Sunderland visit www.atbsunderland.org.uk.

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