Skype consultations, apps and the use of other digital tools could prevent thousands of unnecessary hospital appointments for people with brain and nerve conditions.
NHE England has joined forces with seven charities to produce a toolkit to help local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) improve services for people living with conditions including multiple sclerosis (MS), motor neurone disease (MND) and Parkinson’s.
It means patients could benefit from quicker diagnosis and better coordinated care.
The toolkit could prevent up to 2,500 emergency admissions a year, saving up to £10 million according to NHS England.
It suggests better use of data and technology could help patients monitor and manage their symptoms from the comfort of their own home, as well as electronically access their care plan which they can share with their health team and carers.
Consultant appointments over Skype should also be offered for those who want them.
It provides CCGs and other local groups with advice on how to talk to patients about the use of digital tools, as well as outlining the importance of assessing an individuals ability to use technology before it’s suggested.
The toolkit was created with Parkinson’s UK, MS Society, MS Trust, MND Association, Sue Ryder, MSA Trust and PSP Association and underpins the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to deliver better joined up care.
Dawn Chamberlain, programme director – clinical improvement at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “This is an opportunity for the NHS to work directly with patients and their families to deliver better care closer to home for the thousands of people with progressive neurological conditions.
“Many areas are already providing high quality care in line with best practice, and by supporting others to come up to the same standard, we can deliver faster, more joined-up and better care for thousands more people – supporting them to stay well in their own homes.”
It’s the latest publication from the NHS RichtCare programme, which was set up to provide support to local CCGs to improve care in key areas, based on the best-available data, evidence and intelligence.
Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson’s UK, said: “For too long, services have neglected progressive neurological conditions. This is as dangerous as it is unjust, putting people at higher risk simply because of the kind of condition they have.
“We are urging all Clinical Commissioning Groups to work with charities and implement the new toolkit, so they can make the changes so desperately needed to reduce hospital admissions and unlock these vital cost savings.”
As well as its focus on digital, the toolkit also addresses the need for swifter services, such as fast-tracked blood tests.