A tech-first approach to fighting COVID-19 in Stockport

Stockport Council has taken an innovative and tech-led approach to combating coronavirus in the borough’s homes and care homes over the past 18 months.

By funding a revolutionary app, delivered by Mastercall and developed by Norwegian company Dignio, the council was able to monitor residents as they were released from hospital and back into their homes or care homes. To date, the technology treated 577 COVID-19 patients, and a total of 904 patients were seen online. Hospital admissions were reduced by 44% since using the technology.

The app collects data about a patient in its virtual monitoring hub, by asking them questions about whether they have the symptoms of COVID-19, before monitoring their temperature and oxygen levels and arranging for a video call or visit from a nurse if deemed necessary. This allows people to be monitored safely and remotely, and detect early on any sign of deterioration on its digital platform. Data is traffic light rated to allow a personalised response to the individual needs of each patient and help staff prioritise.

In addition to the COVID-19 response, the Technology Enhanced Living (TEL) service has been able to support early discharges from hospital, allowing patients to return to familiar and comfortable environments sooner. The technology works with care home staff, primary care staff and specialist services to remotely monitor those with a high chance of readmission, and will soon be available to use for patients with COPD or heart failure.

As well as improving the experience for service users, the technology also has the benefit of cost-saving for the NHS, with approximately £240,000 saved during the pilot alone due to reduced hospital admissions. This is all without a compromise on the care received.

The innovative approach that the technology delivered by Mastercall and funded by Stockport Council was recognised for its achievements, receiving glowing praise from NHS England during the Care Home Support Review.

Councillor Jude Wells, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health, said: ““None of this work has been possible without the dedicated care of the staff working within our care homes, home care agencies and learning disability settings.

“They are the ones that should be congratulated on their success as they are the ones at the sharp end of this, providing excellent care and compassion in very difficult surroundings.

“Without their adherence to the guidelines, and their commitment to training, we wouldn’t have been able to implement this technology and help so many people in Stockport.”

Speaking about the impact the technology has had on her, one service user said: “I just want to say a big thank you to the team at Mastercall.”

“My dad is in a care home in Stockport and became unwell. Mastercall arranged for a virtual video assessment and identified that my dad was quite poorly. This early intervention consequently picked up that my dad was COVID-19 positive. He went to hospital with the best possible chance of receiving the appropriate support.”

“I genuinely do not feel that this speedy and decisive action would have taken place without the clinical team’s involvement and feel that the use of this great technology was key.”

The TEL service is not the only way Stockport Council used technology to support vulnerable residents during the pandemic. The council also provided electronic tablets to all care homes, to help combat loneliness and keep residents virtually connected to their loved ones during the height of the national lockdown. This allowed social distancing measures to be adhered to more easily, and reduced the spread of the virus in the borough’s care homes.

Councillor David Sedgwick, Stockport Council’s Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus, added: “The use of innovative digital technologies was fundamental to our approach to care during the pandemic here in Stockport. By harnessing these technologies, we were able to get appropriate help to residents much more quickly and safely when they needed it the most.”

“We hope to continue to use TEL to monitor and assess other seriously ill patients, allowing them to stay in their homes with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they will be admitted to hospital as soon as it is necessary, and that swift action is able to be activated as needed.”

Michaela Buck, CEO of Mastercall, added: “We are delighted with the impact the TEL service is having in supporting patients to live well at home. The health outcomes and benefits are staggering but what is most important is that patients feel more empowered: the service reduces anxiety and stress especially during the challenges of COVID-19.”

“The Dignio platform allows our amazing team of health care professionals to act immediately when a concern is identified, enabling an immediate clinical response.”

“Introduction of our innovative digital clinical service has resulted in national interest from the NHS and received clinical digital innovation recognition from various healthcare award bodies – HSJ, Medilink, INetwork, NHS in the North; this highlights our commitment to digital inclusion and innovation supporting our patients in Stockport.”

“We are grateful to Stockport Council for their commitment to investing in digital technology to revolutionise health outcomes and benefits for our citizens. This is an exciting journey of discovery and benefits.”

Visit the Mastercall website to find out more about the TEL service.