NHS fast-tracks Yorkshire-based health-tech app to help MND patients

A new online system from health-tech business, ADI, which enables healthcare professionals to remotely monitor and support patients who have motor neurone disease (MND) during the Covid-19 pandemic, has been fast-tracked for use by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

The Telehealth in Motor Neurone Disease (TiM) system has been rolled out to patients with MND in Sheffield months ahead of schedule, thanks to a partnership between the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Translational Research (SITraN), Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Saltaire-based leader in the field of technology-enabled health and care services.

The business which has been working with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for the past four years across its musculoskeletal services, pioneered this new technology in conjunction with the team in Sheffield to allows patients to seamlessly and securely connect with their healthcare provider through a web browser, or mobile app, without the need for a physical visit.

Motor neurone disease is an extremely debilitating condition which progressively damages parts of the nervous system, causing muscles to waste and weaken.

Dr Esther Hobson, honorary senior lecturer at SITraN and consultant neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explained the importance of this technology, saying, “Motor neurone disease causes significant life-limiting problems and we had already recognised that it was not ideal to ask them to travel long distances for routine check-ups. However, Covid-19 made it critical that we took extra steps to protect these very vulnerable patients away from a hospital setting whilst continuing to manage their highly specialised care and we have worked hard over the last few weeks to ensure the programme was ready to launch months earlier than planned. Feedback so far has been extremely positive, with our patients telling us how grateful they were that we have rolled out the digital technology to care for them while keeping them safe.”

The the app gets patients answer a series of questionnaires on a weekly basis about their health. This gives their clinician real time data on how their patients are progressing. Patients can also get advice and help on how to manage their condition, attend virtual appointments with their consultant and even access troubleshooting advice for the medical equipment they have to help manage their symptoms at home.

Chris McDermott, consultant neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Professor of Translational Neurology at the University of Sheffield, added that the app enables clinicians to “provide the right level of specialist care remotely, especially for the most vulnerable patients. While Covid-19 has accelerated this change, it is providing clear and complementary benefits to patients who live far from a specialist centre, and who want the new approach to be provided for the long term, beyond the pandemic.”

John Eaglesham, ADI (UK) Ltd chief executive said, “Covid-19 has driven the need for pioneers in the NHS to trial new ways of communicating and caring for patients, particularly amongst at risk groups. Whilst this shift has been accelerated by the current pandemic, it could herald a long term change in how the NHS interacts with patients, catching up to the online communications used in other sectors. We’re delighted that our technology is offering a game-changing solution.”

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