Doccla, a virtual ward provider to the NHS, has announced a new partnership with Joined Up Care Derbyshire to introduce a transformative approach to healthcare in Derby and Derbyshire.

Patients at five key sites across the ICS will now have access to state-of-the-art remote patient monitoring technology, allowing them to receive specialised care at home tailored to their unique needs with the project likely to expand to further sites in the coming months.

Central to this initiative is the ‘Doccla box’, a tailor-made box of equipment provided to patients receiving care through the virtual ward service, which includes a pre-configured smartphone with a large font that is easier to read. Additionally, wearable medical devices within the kit can monitor vital signs such as heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature, blood oxygen levels, and blood pressure.

This data is then remotely monitored by healthcare professionals from dedicated clinical hubs. In cases where in-person care is necessary, healthcare providers can also make home visits.

The virtual ward expansion forms part of an investment in schemes to increase bed capacity across all hospitals and care homes within the Joined Up Care Derbyshire ICS. Doccla’s virtual ward technology will enable local NHS hospitals to discharge eligible patients who will then remain under the care of clinicians, but also reduce the need for patients with long-term or chronic health conditions to visit hospitals in the first place.

The NHS has embarked on an ambitious programme to expand virtual wards across England, with Doccla’s clinical expertise poised to accelerate widespread adoption. The project with Joined Up Care Derbyshire will provide capacity to support over 200 patients at any one time; a significant sign of critical concurrent capacity.

Service available for five pathways

The service will be available for patients across five different pathways: Palliative, Respiratory, Frailty, Cardiology and Haematology.

Dr Seema Kumari, who is leading implementation of virtual wards across the Derby and Derbyshire health and care system, said: “Virtual wards are a safe and efficient alternative to NHS bedded care which will allow patients who would otherwise be in hospital to receive the acute care and treatment in the place they call home, including care homes.

“It allows our healthcare staff to allocate more time for those in need of acute hospital care as it frees up hospital bed space. This is better for patients’ recovery and easier for their families and carers. The key to making virtual wards work, apart from Multi-disciplinary team clinicians, is the monitoring equipment which allows clinicians to check on the progress of their patients while the patient is at home and the clinician is in the hospital.

“The appointment of Doccla as the provider of our monitoring equipment is a key step in expanding our virtual wards as we approach the busy winter period.”

Doccla chief medical officer Dr Greg Edwards added: “The need to deploy more technological solutions that can help streamline operations and reduce the pressure on hospitals has become an absolute necessity, and this is exactly why Doccla exists, to provide some much-needed breathing space for our NHS.

“As an accredited healthcare operator, and the first CQC-registered virtual ward provider in the UK, Doccla is able to use its own team of clinicians to plug-in and support healthcare workers, providing additional capacity and care for patients. We’re really excited to support Joined Up Care Derbyshire in introducing virtual ward technology to hospitals across the East Midlands.”

Since its founding in 2019, Doccla has swiftly become a leading virtual ward provider to the NHS and is now present in over a third of ICBs and more than 25 NHS Trusts, with a patient compliance rate of over 95% and an independently verified saving for the NHS of £3 for every £1 spent on Doccla.

To date, Doccla has already saved over 100,000 bed days for the NHS and has achieved a 29% reduction in emergency admissions and a 20% reduction in ED attendance for client health trusts.

In August 2023, Doccla expanded its reach by acquiring the medically certified cloud-based platform OpenTeleHealth (OTH), solidifying its position as Europe’s premier virtual hospital and extending its presence to 12 new markets.