The NHS Northern Care Alliance is to set up one of the UK’s biggest virtual wards that will monitor more than 500 patients in their own homes.

The alliance has appointed Dignio, to provide the technology and the project will cover a large part of the Greater Manchester area and the virtual beds will be available to patients with a variety of different conditions.

Healthcare teams at Salford Care Organisation, part of the Northern Care Alliance, and Dignio also piloted the use of remote monitoring, which used a smartphone app and easy-to-use connected Bluetooth devices.

As with the original pilot scheme, the new 500 bed virtual ward will see patients being given access to the MyDignio App to record their vital signs.

The data can be reviewed and monitored by the healthcare team and thresholds for alerts set on an individual patient basis, meaning that when something falls outside an acceptable range, clinicians are alerted.

Ian Hogan, chief information officer for digitally integrated care at the Northern Care Alliance, said: “After such a successful pilot scheme, and the national initiative for implementation of virtual bedded wards, it was clear that working with Dignio has the potential to offer our patients a different type of healthcare intervention.

“One that gives control to them, in their most familiar environment. It also offers a level of empowerment with regards to their condition management and ongoing assessment of condition specific observations all under the watchful eye of our clinicians and supported by the artificial intelligence within the Dignio platform and the personalised tolerances it offers.

“Patient feedback from the pilot has been really positive and engaging and the broader engagement across our clinical colleagues has garnered support and rethinking of clinical pathways to better support patient care and experience.”

Funding for the latest virtual ward is coming from the Government’s ‘Elective Recovery Technology Fund’ which is designed to provide NHS trusts with an opportunity to transform the way they provide services to patients.

The app and remote care solution for the project from Dignio has been widely used across the country for monitoring patients with a variety of long-term health conditions.

Dr Ewa Truchanowicz, UK managing director at Dignio, said: “We are really pleased to be continuing our work with the Northern Care Alliance. We focus on empowering patients with more knowledge about their disease and tools for self-management in order to slow disease progression and to reduce preventable admissions.”

“Our partnerships with the NHS help us ensure that our solution meets the needs of the diverse users whom it helps. Our award-winning technology is constantly evolving in response to feedback and we value enormously the opportunity to continue working with our Northern Care Alliance colleagues. We are honoured to help them optimise how and where the best quality care is delivered to their patients.”