Innovation and changeCloud ComputingTechnology to bring personalised care to COPD patients

Technology to bring personalised care to COPD patients

The trial that empowers patients with data and AI will include 400 COPD patients, with the aim of reducing hospital admissions by one a year

An NHS hospital in Scotland is improving care for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) by leveraging AI and machine learning to bring an easier way to manage the condition from the comfort of patients’ own homes.

The joint effort by KenSci, Storm ID and ResMed, funded by InnovateUK, seeks to reduce emergency hospital admissions among the highest risk Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients through remote monitoring, home therapy, and AI-enabled preventative interventions.

KenSci, along with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, has been announced as a recipient of Microsoft Corp.’s 2019 Health Innovation Awards. Both the organisations were awarded for using Microsoft Technology to fight COPD. Health Innovation Awards recognise health organisations and their technology solution partners for using Microsoft’s intelligent health technologies in innovative ways. Solutions must empower care teams, improve clinical and operational outcomes, and advance precision healthcare.

Delivering earlier treatment

AI algorithms, based on machine learning, will be used for these trials at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde to monitor results. This facility will automatically detect and predict issues. Healthcare experts can vary their treatment accordingly, based on their individual needs.

Healthcare professionals can remotely monitor COPD patients’ breathing machines in their homes and vary their treatment accordingly using wearable devices and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platformThey can now see patient-reported information and physiology data produced by a patients’ wearable device and their breathing machine. The patients and clinical team can communicate by messaging through Azure. Further to this, the consultants can change the ventilation remotely via an online portal.

This will save patients from making regular trips to the hospital. If their condition gets worse, their healthcare providers can automatically be alerted. This will allow timely treatment and a better quality of life.

Chris Carlin, a Consultant Respiratory Physician, said: “It’s about delivering treatment earlier by using data. If we can empower patients to self-manage their condition, we can significantly reduce hospital admissions. That self-management might be helping them with their breathing, escalating their existing treatment, recommending new treatment or reaching out to the community respiratory team.

“The information is already there. So this trial is about making sure it’s integrated and surfaced to clinical teams and the patient.”

Avoiding hospital admission

COPD occurs when the lungs become inflamed, damaged and narrowed. Middle-aged and older people who have smoked or have been exposed to air pollution usually get affected by it. Without treatment, the symptoms, which include breathlessness, chest infections and a persistent cough, usually get worse. The condition affects 1.2 million people in the UK and is the second most common cause of emergency hospital admissions.

“We see around 10 COPD patients a day in the emergency department,” said David Lowe, an Emergency Consultant at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde. “Avoiding hospital admission is a priority for patients with COPD. This has a significant impact on the health service, which is struggling to cope with increased demand. It has an impact on the wellbeing of the patient and costs an average of £6,000 per admission. We could have delivered the same key interventions using antibiotics and steroids to the patient in their home days earlier if we had sight of their decline.

“Patients can be empowered to self-manage their condition, with rescue packs of treatment. Those can be delivered in the community; but it’s about appropriate treatment, so we are not starting people on steroids and antibiotics for no reason. By using data, we can say to patients: ‘This is when you need to take them to prevent you going to hospital,’ rather than telling people to take it because they might just feel a bit worse.”

Cloud to improve services

The public sector in the UK is increasingly using cloud technology to improve services. Wales is to become one of the first countries in the world to give schools free access to Microsoft 365. A Mott MacDonald – Microsoft partnership was set up to create a cloud-based smart infrastructure platform on Azure for building owners and governments. UK Police Forces were set to start using analytical tools for solving crime after Analyser and Investigator solutions from Chorus Intelligence were made accessible to police forces via Microsoft’s cloud platform – Azure.

In November, NHS Scotland signed a “landmark” deal with Microsoft to merge more than 100 separate computer systems and give its 161,000 staff access to Office 365 so they can spend more time focusing on patients. GPs, consultants and support workers will now be able to communicate on one digital platform. This will allow them to share patient information more easily and reduce waiting times.

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