Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust has expanded the roll out of an avatar-led interactive programme for people with chronic kidney disease following a successful pilot.

The information programme was originally conceived to help evaluate how patients understood and wanted to consume health information relating to their diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. For the year-long pilot, the trust’s clinical team worked with Cognitant to create a programme which was both easy-to-understand and accessible.

The information was available in two formats: written information with diagrams and an immersive, interactive animated digital format. The digital version was accessed from the Healthinote platform – a solution for delivering prescribed health information from reliable sources.

Both formats were put to the test by the trust’s patients. It found that patients absorbed information more easily in digital format and found this method easy to use.

Patients reported better understanding of their condition (96% of digital users compared to 88% of those trialling the written information); found the content easy to understand (100% of digital vs 88% written); and that the information was easy to find (100% digital vs 87% written).

The clinical team was led by Dr Emma Vaux, consultant nephrologist and physician at the trust.

She said: “This pilot was incredibly insightful for us as we had the opportunity to really explore how people consume health information and whether they would accept the digital delivery of this information.”

She continued: “Our vision, through the programme, is to improve patient experience, enable them to be well informed, both in their self-care and avoidance of complications, as well as ultimately delaying CKD progression. We are really pleased by the feedback so far. We are excited to continue to demonstrate the benefits of the programme across the wider community and the whole health and care system.”

The programme secured £30,000 funding from the Q Exchange, which is funded by the Health Foundation, NHS England and NHS Improvement. After a successful year’s trial finished in July 2021, the programme continues to be used and work is now underway to translate the content into Nepalese, Urdu, Punjabi and Polish and apply cultural adaptation. Additional subject areas are also being added, with information on acute kidney injury going live in the next few months.

Dr Tim Ringrose, chief executive and co-founder of the Cognitant Group, added: “Our mission is to help people of all ages and abilities to understand more about their health and to be empowered to manage their health effectively. This project is already demonstrating the impact it can have on people and how this technology enables the NHS to provide more support for patients with long-term conditions.”