Without any technology available to remotely examine patients, GPs needed a way to manage their most vulnerable patients without any physical contact. Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System (ICS) decided to pilot Arc Health as one part of their Covid-19 response to support care homes. Arc Health was installed in five care homes and GPs across the linked surgeries were trained to offer remote examinations.
In the early phase of the Covid-19 response, care homes and GPs were keen to provide safe and continued healthcare support to residents whilst protecting them from any infection risk. Many face-to-face consultations had been replaced by telephone and video consultations, but with no vital signs monitoring.
Arc Health provides the perfect opportunity to combine the flexibility of remote consultation with connection to digital devices to support continued quality care. As the team from Melbourne House care home stated:
“We are proud to be one of just a few care homes selected to pioneer this ‘state of the art’ contact–free medical examination technology.”
“We really feel it reduces stress for our elderly residents, as well as reducing exposure to further ‘germs’ in a surgery environment.”
Using Arc Health, GPs have been able to limit the number of visits to care homes but still deliver quality care. By remotely listening to heart and lung sounds, examining the ears and throat, and recording observations, GPs offer safe clinical assessments and initiate treatment in a timely way.
Arc Health also offers residents a more convenient way of having a GP consultation. Jane Scarborough, Project and Business Change Manager at Connected Nottinghamshire, says “the new remote consultation system is proving popular with patients and their carers, giving them a convenient way of accessing their GP remotely. Here she shares a real-world example:
“One dementia patient, a resident in a retirement living complex, needed to see a GP for a suspected chest infection. Previously, their carer would have had to take them into the surgery but with Arc Health, the patient was able to be seen remotely in surroundings they knew well.”
Integrated care needs to align the priorities of different stakeholders: primary care, secondary care and social care. Arc Health supports residents’ access to care at the right time, minimises infection risk, and helps to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions. Most importantly, GPs feel reassured by the level of care they can provide using Arc Health. Scarborough explains:
“The integration of a stethoscope and medical camera is particularly helpful for GPs to support a holistic remote consultation.”
The successful pilot between Arc Health and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS has influenced further product development plans. The case study is being disseminated via the East Midlands AHSN.
In early 2021, Arc Health will incorporate the widely used RESTORE2² system, which has been supported by the Patient Safety Collaborative, and employs ‘soft signs’ to identify deterioration, vital sign measurement and the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) to guide response. The SBAR tool (situation, background, action, recommendation) tool will be used to communicate concerns with primary care.