Patients who would previously have to stay in hospital are now able to go home earlier, thanks to new technology being used by Derriford Hospitals’ Virtual Ward.
Since the launch of virtual wards last December, over 300 patients have been cared by the team and benefit from consultant led care delivered in the comfort of their own home.
On a virtual ward, patients are provided with digitally enabled smart devices to monitor heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. They receive daily calls and are given a tablet device and Wi-Fi router which sends their vital statistics to back to the clinical team looking after them.
Becki Greenwood, Service Line Manager for Acute Medicine says: “Virtual wards are creating additional space for those who are arriving at the Emergency Department and need a hospital bed, by getting people safely home sooner than has been previously possible.
“Patients are telling us they prefer it, and the success of virtual wards has saved the equivalent of over 2300 bed days at the main Derriford site.
“This new way of working, with 50 additional beds created, is a great model for success as patients are recovering more quickly in the comfort of their own home, and the hospital is able to free up beds for those with urgent need.”
Susan Miller, 75, from Plympton, has spent over 15 days as an inpatient at Derriford for her heart condition during recent months. But going home with a package of care and the virtual ward technology, means her blood pressure can be monitored at home with regular contact from the Derriford team and oversight from her consultant.
She said: “When you arrive at the hospital everyone is very professional as you would hope, but there is queue of ambulances because the pressure on the emergency system is very high. I know I will be sent to the area that is most appropriate for me, but in the meantime, the reason that I am being held up for so long is because there’s a bottleneck at the other end.
“I would hope that this would be a way of easing that bottleneck, so instead of there being 20 or 30 people waiting to have their blood pressure taken and their general health checked, instead of taking up a bed for that, this equipment would be available for them to go home and press a button and feel as confident as I do.
“People would be able to go home and that would take the pressure off the Emergency department, and everything would be able to flow because there’s nowhere for people to go at the moment. It’s also easier for family to visit me at home rather than travelling and having to find somewhere to park at Derriford.
“It’s lovely to come through your own front door and think I can relax. It’s a big relief. You think, maybe there’s a way that I can be dealt with differently, and this seems to be the way.”
National data shows that patients are less likely to be readmitted to hospital after being treated on a virtual ward, as well as being 5 times less likely to acquire an infection and 8 times less likely to experience function decline, and other potential problems such as falls and delirium.
According to survey data from UHP’s virtual ward, over 90% of patients, friends and family rated their experience as good or very good.