Six NHS trusts have joined forces for an initiative that will deliver digital healthcare to three million people in North East England.

Health Call assists healthcare professionals in the region to share knowledge and implement digital healthcare at scale. The partnership has been established following work undertaken by digital health technology provider Inhealthcare and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust has been using digital healthcare solutions by Inhealthcare since 2013, and has now opened the partnership to neighbouring trusts so that more patients can benefit from its work.

The other trusts involved in Health Call are Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The first wave of services from Health Call target stroke prevention, gestational diabetes, cancer pathway management, smoking cessation and under-nutrition.

Ian Dove, director of Health Call  said the NHS in the North East is very good at collaboration and sharing ideas and services to make sure 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,” Dove said.

One of the services developed by County Durham and Darlington is an at-home pin-prick test for patients who use Warfarin, an anticoagulant used for managing atrial fibrillation.

Instead of having to attend hospital for regular monitoring, patients can take a blood sample at home and submit the readings using Inhealthcare’s handheld Roche device. Their results are then assessed by a nurse specialist, who is also available for advice and will contact the patient if any concerning readings are found.

Dove said: “Our patients love this service, it saves them the time and bother of coming to clinic – they can even submit their readings from overseas if they go on holiday.  One benefit we didn’t anticipate was the sense of empowerment patients have when self-monitoring – they work especially hard at managing their condition in order to get a good reading. “

Meanwhile, Gateshead Health has developed a service that supports patients trying to stop smoking by sending supportive messages and putting them in touch with  clinicians. Bryn Sage, chief executive of Inhealthcare, said Health Call would allow trusts to avoid wasting resources on developing duplicate services, as well as reducing the number of admissions to GPs and hospitals.

“Based on our experience we believe this roll-out across the North East will free up hundreds of thousands of appointments by allowing patients to self-care at home under the supervision of their care teams,” Sage told Digital Health News.

“In addition, trusts will be able to use our digital health toolkit to extend their digital health services and apps. ”

The partnership comes amidst a flurry collaboration in North England. In November, the Great North Care Record (GNCR) launched a regional network to encourage better information-sharing across the North East and North Cumbria.

The aim of the project is to make the region a powerhouse in healthcare and medical research.

Sue Jacques, chief executive of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a bold and forward-thinking step which I’m immensely proud of. Sharing knowledge and expertise is transforming the experience and care provided to patients across many of our services.”