BT Group has launched its virtual wards programme, aimed at healthcare customers across the UK as part of its ambition to work together with the NHS to build smarter, safer and more efficient services for everyone. 

Virtual wards give patients access to the healthcare services they need remotely, safely and conveniently, outside of a hospital setting. This follows BT research that found 74% of NHS staff agree that technology helps to deliver better quality care, while the current standard of technology at work is a source of stress for 49%*.

BT’s virtual wards programme is delivered in partnership with pioneering healthcare technology companies, such as Feebris, alongside the creation of its own solutions. 

From smart devices that monitor health conditions like COPD and heart disease, to AI-backed software that enables clinicians to perform virtual ward rounds, the new solutions are now available for BT’s customers in the healthcare sector. 

One of BT’s new digital health partners, Feebris, will help deliver virtual ward and virtual care solutions through its virtual care platform, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enable community healthcare professionals and patients to capture reliable health information in real time and assess the risk of conditions worsening quickly. The technology is used across care homes, community nursing and virtual wards. 

Today’s launch marks an important milestone for BT in its commitment to working alongside healthcare providers to unlock the power of technology and improve health services across the UK.

Its ‘clinically led, digitally enabled’ strategy sees BT work closely with the NHS and other healthcare providers, from the first conversation right through to tests and trials and rolling transformative technology out across the front line. 

NHS research has cited the benefits of virtual ward care, including a 50% reduction in re-admission rates and £1,047 in estimated savings per patient, per day, when using a virtual ward. In addition, 94% of patients felt more confident about being able to manage their condition from home. 

The new partnerships with health tech leaders like Feebris were set up by Etc., BT Group’s incubation hub, as it works to develop a portfolio of remote monitoring services to support both primary and secondary care providers. 

In addition, through Etc., BT Group is developing a broader virtual ward solution designed to enhance and accelerate the impact of these types of service for health providers.

Having recently been awarded the IoT Breakthrough Award for Digital Health Innovation, the new product aims to solve some of the biggest challenges in healthcare settings, drawing on new partnerships as well as new technology to support clinicians and patients directly. It will be launched later this year. 

Developing partnerships

Further extending its support in the healthcare market, BT is also forging other partnerships with leading technology companies outside of virtual wards, such as my mhealth.

The my mhealth digital therapeutic platform provides personalised, evidenced-based, digital interventions for patients across four long-term conditions; asthma, COPD, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Accessible via the app or online, patients are provided with the digital tools they need to self-manage their condition effectively with confidence i.e. rehabilitation, accredited education courses, care plans, medication management and much more.

Additionally, clinical teams can use the clinical dashboard to facilitate self-management, empowering patients to regain control over their condition.    

 The roll-out of the new virtual wards, virtual care and digital health programme, is delivered by BT’s dedicated healthcare team, led by in-house healthcare professionals and guided by an external Clinical Advisory Board. 

Professor Sultan Mahmud, BT’s Director of Healthcare, said: “With health services facing exceptional demand – as thousands of patients await discharge and pressure on clinicians grows – we are launching our virtual ward and virtual care programme at a critical time for the NHS. 

 “These new virtual healthcare partnerships will help deliver a better service for everyone – enabling clinicians to safely monitor patients at home or via community care, freeing up hospital beds for those who really need them, and relieving the pressure on our frontline services.”

Maria Glover, a Cardiac Rehab Nurse Manager at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, has been using virtual care technology since February to help support patients with long-term conditions. She says: “Here in Wolverhampton, we’ve been trialling virtual care apps to complement the service we provide to patients at home, in the community and face to face. We have 120 patients using the app and it really is changing lives. Having a digital platform gives patients with lifelong conditions the tools and resources they need to self-manage their care, helping prevent further issues and freeing up our team to help patients that need more urgent face-to-face support.”