SEQOL wins prestigious national award for using technology to improve patient care and make efficiencies.
SEQOL, the social enterprise that delivers a range of community health and adult social care services to residents of Swindon, has won a national award by the “bible” of the health services profession – the Health Services Journal.
The HSJ Efficiency Awards recognise the country’s health care providers that are leading the way in both improving the patient experience and demonstrating efficiencies.
SEQOL won the 2013 HSJ Efficient Telehealth Solutions award for its innovative scheme of supporting life planning for people with learning disabilities, those living in supported housing and those with long-term conditions to self-care in their own homes.
Telehealth is a high-tech system that aims to prevent or reduce unplanned hospital admissions by helping patients and their carers to monitor and manage the symptoms of their long term health conditions at home. Equipment to measure blood pressure, blood glucose levels, oxygen levels and other vital signs is installed in the patient’s home, and the patient and/or carer is taught how to carry out the monitoring themselves.
The measurements are automatically transmitted via a modem to the SEQOL team, who assess whether there is any need for intervention at an early stage. There are currently 152 people using SEQOL’s Telehealth, with a further six people due to begin using it over the next few weeks.
In the case of one patient, a young man who has learning disabilities and several long-term conditions including epilepsy, asthma and a partial bowel obstruction, the impact on his health and well-being following use of Telehealth was substantial.
The man, who lives in a nursing home, was so unwell that it was believed he might be coming to the end of his life. SEQOL community matrons and learning disability nurses worked with his GP, family, carers, an oxygen nurse and palliative care nurses from Prospect Hospice and Marie Curie to draw up a personalised support plan, which included Telehealth.
Following introduction of Telehealth, his unplanned year-on-year admissions to hospital reduced from 50 to zero, with community nurse visits now needed once a week instead of once a day. His visits to his GP practice reduced from four times a week to once a week, and he is now mobile and well enough to visit his mother at weekends (taking his Telehealth equipment with him).
The positive impact on the quality of life for the patient and his family is substantial, but this approach has also resulted in reduction of costs of around £240,000 in one year alone.
The HSJ Efficiencies Awards judges said of SEQOL’s Telehealth initiative: “The early cost savings are high, both in the acute sector and across the whole system.”
Kim Hogan, one of the community matrons leading on SEQOL’s Telehealth initiative, said she and her team were ecstatic with the award.
“We were up against some really big national organisations and the judges told us that it was our team approach within and outside SEQOL that won it. This Telehealth initiative is very rewarding in that it both improves quality of lives for individuals and their families and brings about efficiencies by directing resources to where they are most needed,” said Kim.
“It’s also very much a team effort both within SEQOL, with patients and carers, and with our other partners and our commissioners, who are all an essential part of the process that has allowed this to happen. We look forward to extending this system more, so that more patients for whom Telehealth is an appropriate management tool can be offered the chance to benefit from it.”
David Cockayne, managed services director at Tunstall Healthcare, which supplies the Telehealth equipment to SEQOL, said: “In a time of unprecedented austerity, when a premium is placed on efficient solutions that make the best use of resources and maximise the quality of patient care, we are proud to be working with SEQOL and congratulate them for their innovation and dedication to delivering such transformative systems of care.”