Cutting edge technology helping older people leave hospital on time

Older patients in Oxfordshire are being supported to leave hospital and recover at home by using cutting edge technology and specialist wraparound support, empowering them to confidently take their medicines independently.

Oxfordshire County Council’s dedicated Innovation Hub (iHUB) is working with the council’s adult social care team, as well as NHS partners, to develop the healthy ageing initiative. Using technology created by digital medicines experts CONNECT Care, the project is designed to improve health outcomes for patients while easing hospital discharge rates and reducing re-admissions.Smart Med box

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Using technology to enable people to live well in their own communities is an important part of our ‘Oxfordshire Way’ vision. After hospital treatment, patients recover more quickly at home but concerns about their ability to take medication independently can lead to a longer hospital stay than necessary.

“This pioneering initiative will give patients greater confidence to get better in their own homes, freeing up space in hospitals for those who need it most, and allowing our residents to recover where they feel most comfortable.”

Following an initial research and design phase launched in May 2022, the initiative is being rolled out to up to 50 adult social care patients from Monday 23 January. Backed by a £1 million Innovate UK Grant, led by Oxfordshire County Council’s iHUB and CONNECT Care, the 16-month project is the first of its kind and is providing a blueprint which could be scaled to support patients right across the UK to manage their medicines safely and independently. 

Suitable patients identified for the trial may include people taking multiple medicines where there is a higher chance of missing doses or errors with timings. This may lead to avoidable health complications or increased likelihood of falls, resulting in hospital re-admissions or the need to move into a care home setting.

The healthy ageing initiative will provide the support needed to reduce these risks, helping older people confidently and safely manage their own medicines at home. This support will come in the form of an initial face to face appointment with each individual as they are discharged, to create a personalised schedule for when they should take their medicines.

Each patient will then be given a CONNECT Care ‘smart’ medicine storage box, which uses flashing lights and buzzes when it’s time to take a dose and can even send texts to the patient's phone or a family member if doses are repeatedly missed. This means each patient can benefit from technology that keeps them on track and is bespoke to them.

A weekly report, accessible by the patient’s carers, or nominated family members, will then outline their medication routine and flag any concerns. Extra support can then be put in place, where necessary. 

In the future, the service will also be able to flag potential side effects patients and their care teams can expect, such as increased risk of falling due to a specific combination of medicines. 

The wraparound support will combine personalised care and the smart software to connect the dots and ensure the patient is empowered and that their wider support network has all the information they need in one place – using the CONNECT Care platform – enabling joined-up care. 

Karen Fuller, Interim Director of Adult Social Care at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “This is a great example of how we’re leading the way working innovatively, supporting individuals to be discharged from hospital putting patients first and easing pressures within the health and social care system.

“By working as one team, sharing the vision of The Oxfordshire Way and taking a strength based approach to identify opportunities that can really make a difference, we are using digital solutions to assist residents to live well, within their own homes for longer.”

Issa Dasu Patel, Co-Founder and CEO of CONNECT Care, who is delivering the technology and software to support the project, said: “We are so excited to launch this first of its kind project to support older people living independently and help them take their medicines confidently and safely. This is not only empowering patients to manage better when they leave hospital, but will also keep them well, at home, for longer.

“We want to ensure those taking multiple medicines receive the same level of information on potential side effects and risks as they would from an in-person consultation with their pharmacist. By providing this support, the healthy ageing initiative aims to empower older people to take charge of their own care, giving them a sense of dignity and active involvement in their treatment.”

Hear more from Issa and Cllr Bearder about the project in our short video.

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