Elderly residents at more than 100 care homes in Scotland are set to benefit from a high-tech nutritional health support.
Developed by NHS Tayside in partnership with Inhealthcare, the new digital pathway is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of residents and reduce the inappropriate prescribing of oral nutritional health supplements.
Monitoring nutritional health
NHS Scotland has said malnutrition and dehydration have substantial adverse effects on health yet often go unrecognised and untreated.
It is estimated that one in three people admitted to hospital are malnourished or at risk of becoming so. The annual cost of disease-related malnutrition to the public purse is £13bn.
NHS Scotland has said savings could be made through full implementation of high-quality pathways of nutritional care.
Inhealthcare worked with dietitians at NHS Tayside to develop the nutritional support pathway, which went live this month.
How does it work?
Whenever there is cause for concern, care home staff use the service to refer residents to dietitians via a digital questionnaire.
Dietitians review the responses and if the patient is accepted into their caseload then care home staff are provided with advice on food and where appropriate, oral nutritional supplements. A schedule for regular monitoring is established until the resident’s nutrition is stabilised.
Care home staff enter monitoring data into the digital platform, and this includes weight, body mass index, food and drink intake, appetite and number of supplements consumed. This data creates a patient dashboard that then creates alerts if readings fall out of range, allowing dietitians to respond to those in most need.
The digital service should help ensure more efficient prescribing by helping to cut down on the stockpiling of oral nutritional supplements as the system calculates the supplements used and what needs to be reordered, based on the patient intake for each care home.
“Reduces inappropriate prescribing”
Dr Janet Baxter, Nutritional Support Service Lead at NHS Tayside, said: “Our new service improves resident safety and experience, increases the engagement of care home staff in resident care and reduces inappropriate prescribing of oral nutritional supplements.
“It will make sure that residents are getting the right care at the right time in the right volume.”
Bryn Sage, chief executive of Inhealthcare, said: “We are delighted to be working with NHS Tayside on this innovative service.
“It will benefit the healthcare system by making it easier to manage routine cases and freeing up clinicians to focus their care on those residents with the greatest need.
“The technology has the potential to be expanded into other dietetic-led services for conditions such as diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome and coeliac disease.”
Inhealthcare is a UK leader in digital health and remote patient monitoring.
It has developed the Inhealthcare digital toolkit to help clinical teams build their own digital health services for any area of care at scale, speed and low cost.
Inhealthcare has worked with clinicians to build a library of more than 50 services to support long-term conditions including heart disease, lung disease, hypertension, diabetes, undernutrition and smoking cessation.
Inhealthcare is highly secure, scoring 100% on the Department of Health Information Governance Toolkit Level 3 and is ISO27001 and ISO9001 accredited.
Inhealthcare has rolled out digital health services in London, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the North East, the North West, the Midlands, East Anglia and the Home Counties.
Inhealthcare offers communications channels that are inclusive for all patients, regardless of ability, including SMS, app, online, voice and Amazon Alexa.
The company’s deployed services are fully aligned with the technology elements of the NHS Long Term Plan.