A specialty virtual ward is to be rolled out across London as part of a region-wide remote monitoring programme which aims to support patients waiting for heart surgery.

Ortus-iHealth’s digital platform will be deployed at London’s eight tertiary heart centres, after the company won an an open tender. The programme aims to reduce the risk of patients who are on the cardiac surgery waiting list and to help speed up the time it takes for them to prepare for and recover from surgery.

It is part of the London Cardiac Remote Monitoring Programme, which was commissioned on behalf of the South and North London Cardiac Operational Delivery Networks and which received £750,000 transformation funding from NHSX.

Using the Ortus i-Health platform, patients will complete questionnaires and submit data which is then submitted to a virtual ward dashboard that is monitored by their clinical team.

Ortus-iHealth has been developed by a cardiac consultant at Barts Health NHS Trust, Dr Debashish Das. It made the Digital Health Rewired Pitchfest short-list in 2020 – one of just 16 start-ups considered for the award.

Dr Das explained: “It collects quantitative data, like blood pressure readings and patient-inputted symptoms, and qualitative data, like responses to questionnaires. It displays that data on a dashboard, alongside a communications link to the patient.

“That means I can message you to say: ‘I’ve seen your observations, and they look fine’ or: ‘I’ve been alerted to a problem, and this is what we are going to do’.”

Dr Das added: “What is so exciting about the London Cardiac Remote Monitoring Programme is that it has been developed by experts who have already tried out virtual wards and who understand what is needed to make them work.

“It’s the first, real, pan-London remote monitoring programme for any clinical specialty, and we’re delighted that our solution has been recognised as the best option to support both clinicians and patients.”

The initial focus is on the heart surgery pathway. However, the Ortus-iHealth platform can also be used to support other cardiac pathways, providing patients with information about their condition, preparing them for treatment and minimising the time they need to spend in hospital.

The London hospitals that are implementing the system are: St Bartholomew’s, Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College, St George’s, Royal Brompton, Harefield, Imperial College and The Royal Free.

Stephen Edmondson, NHSE Cardiac Network clinical director, London region, said: “The Ortus digital platform which has been procured on behalf of all the major London cardiac centres creates a patient and clinician user friendly digital ward environment to continuously monitor and reprioritise our patients.

“We were keen that any such digital solution would improve the overall patient experience. The Ortus platform which can be web or app-based also provides digitised information concerning their particular treatment, digitised consent and digitised aftercare and follow up.”