Health Call: a case study

By Ian Dove.

What is Health Call?

Health Call is a collaboration between six NHS trusts and technology partner Inhealthcare in the North East of England.

It represents the largest deployment of digital care technologies in the country and allows for best practice and diverse clinical expertise to be shared across a population area of three million people.

A digital care service designed, built and deployed by one trust can quickly and efficiently be made available to other trusts in the collaboration. The approach overcomes the barriers to adoption of proven innovations in the health service.

How does it work?

Clinicians design, build and roll-out digital care services using the Inhealthcare’s Toolkit, the first of its kind in the UK.

The programming language and allows for services to be designed in hours, rather than months, and at a fraction of the cost.

Patient data is hosted inside the NHS network and meets all Department of Health’s guidelines for information governance.

Is it just for smartphone users?

No. Digital care services deployed by Health Call using Inhealthcare’s infrastructure offer patients a choice of channels.

Patients do not need to have an expensive smartphone contract to benefit from digital care.

They can choose automated telephone service, SMS text message, web portal or app.

Health Call supports the remote care monitoring of the entire population of the North East.

An example of Health Call in practice:

The latest Health Call service is for pregnant women with gestational diabetes.

It pools the expertise and knowhow of trusts in the collaboration.

The service allows clinicians to remotely monitor sufferers and empowers users to manage their own health.

Patients test their blood sugar levels with a glucose meter between two and seven times per day.

They send their results safely and securely via mobile phone app or text message for analysis according to rules set by clinicians.

The mobile app is ideal for the user demographic.

If blood sugar levels breach personalised thresholds, clinicians are notified and can step in as necessary with medical intervention, reassurance or advice about diet and lifestyle.

Patients use the service to access additional information about gestational diabetes and increase their understanding of the condition, which can encourage healthy behaviour.

Services built and deployed successfully in one area can easily be rolled out elsewhere, which reduces duplication and waste.

Examples of Health Call services:

  • Self-testing service for warfarin users
  • Monitoring service for patients at risk of undernutrition
  • Management service for patients with chronic pain
  • Fall prevention service for the vulnerable
  • Weight management service for the obese
  • Smoking cessation service for smokers

Health Call is made up of six trusts, including:

  • County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
  • Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The NHS in the North East is very good at collaboration and sharing ideas and services to make sure our patients get the very best care possible. It makes sense to extend this into the digital age so when one trust identifies an opportunity to use technology we’ll all be able to use it. This avoids the risk of wasting time and resources that are potentially duplicating development across organisations.

Ian Dove is Director at Health Call.