Supporting people with long-term conditions

“The East Midlands AHSN have helped us gather our ideas about our product and have opened doors for us to meet senior healthcare stakeholders we wouldn’t have met otherwise. We were extremely pleased to win the Medilink East Midland’s Award for Delivering Innovation in Healthcare – which the East Midlands AHSN sponsored.”

– Nadine Miles, Director of Market Development


Challenge / Problem Identified

Routine hospital visits during the pandemic provide extra risk for vulnerable people, including those with long-term conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), due to risk of infection.

It is estimated that three million people in the UK are living with COPD. This makes it the second most common lung disease in the UK following asthma. The estimated annual cost of COPD to the NHS is £1.9 billion.

To support people with long-term conditions during the pandemic, East Midlands AHSN helped to prime a remote monitoring innovation – Spirit Digital CliniTouch Vie – for adoption and spread across the East Midlands by providing expert advice and introductions to senior healthcare stakeholders.

CliniTouch Vie is a digital solution that combines remote monitoring, patient education and patient self-management to create a 24/7 accessible virtual clinic within a mobile device, which can be used at home.

Actions Taken

East Midlands AHSN began working with the company in May 2019 after they joined the Digital Health Accelerator programme, to develop their product messaging and proposition for an NHS audience. East Midlands AHSN has acted as a neutral sounding board for them to refine their plan to take the product forward.

As well as receiving in-depth guidance and access to expertise, Spirit Digital have also benefited from exposure to healthcare professionals and stakeholders at high-profile and targeted events, and coaching and mentoring.

Impacts / Outcomes

During the pandemic, an East Midlands Trust implemented CliniTouch Vie for up to 1,000 patients meaning they were able to on-board their existing community caseloads and accelerate hospital discharges.

The solution helps release hospital beds and increase capacity in specialist community teams managing vulnerable patients from the safety and comfort of their own homes.

As a result, the team felt more confident that these vulnerable patients were safer at home and could be monitored around the clock for any signs of deterioration. It also helped the clinical team to prioritise patients and therefore enable them to be more efficient with their increasing workload.

Spirit Digital recently won a Medilink East Midlands Award for Delivering Innovation in Health and Care, which was sponsored by East Midlands AHSN. Following the win, they were entered into the national Medilink awards and subsequently won their category. All of these opportunities have provided Spirit Digital with exposure and a platform to highlight their product – which they wouldn’t have had easy access to without the AHSN.

Spirit Digital also receive ongoing support from East Midlands AHSN with funding applications for product development, with Spirit’s most recent win being European Space Agency funding to research the benefit of adding a new air quality functionality into their COPD platform.

Lessons Learned

Spirit Digital found that a project that was taking months to discuss even the early stages was implemented within three weeks during the pandemic.

As an SME, they were able to be nimble and agile to help support the system response to COVID-19 at a fast pace.

“Great progress has been made towards proactive digital care, and it’s pivotal that we lock that in. We need to work towards remote and virtual consultations becoming part of normal care – not a pilot service within ‘business as usual’.

“Absolute alignment of the agenda during the pandemic has been key – it is amazing what the NHS can deliver when it sets its mind to it. There has been an eagerness to adopt new technology overcoming a previous fear of this same technology – with the risk vs reward balance now signalling to proceed.”

Chris Barker, CEO of Spirit Health Group

Future Plans / Next Steps

East Midlands AHSN are in the process of working on a demonstrator project evaluating the benefits of using Spirit’s platform to support care home professionals to identify early signs of deterioration in care home residents and escalate where required.