NHS commissions ‘largest-ever digital health service’ in Yorkshire

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THE NHS has commissioned what is thought to be the UK’s largest ever digital health service in Yorkshire.

The pioneering contract combines leading-edge technology with the latest medical thinking to help patients suffering from chronic pain manage their conditions.

It will also help to reduce the pressure on the cash-strapped NHS by cutting the number of unnecessary visits to GPs and hospitals.

PainSense was developed by the Advanced Digital Institute (ADI) in Shipley with the support of medical experts in the study and treatment of chronic pain.

The free downloadable app gives patients the knowledge, skills and guidance to manage their pain.

This information is then transferred safely and securely to doctors and their patient record systems via technology created by Inheathcare, a digital healthcare specialist based in Harrogate.

PainSense was successfully piloted in Leeds last year and has now been contracted by the NHS Leeds West Clinical Commissioning Group.

The service is adding 300 new patients a month in Leeds and West Yorkshire.

John Eaglesham, chief executive of ADI, said people with chronic pain are not well served by the NHS with many sufferers referred unnecessarily to hospital or specialist services. There is also an over-reliance on medication, he added.

Mr Eaglesham told The Yorkshire Post: “There is a lack of understanding generally as to how best support people with chronic pain. Services across the country are recognising this. We have got dialogue with something like 33 other commissioning groups about adopting PainSense.

“They are very excited and encouraged about the Leeds experience. We see 2016 as the year when this service takes off across the country from its Leeds roots.

“It is one of the most successful digital health products we are aware of anywhere.”

Inhealthcare is part of Intechnology plc, which has a history of data services, managed services and data security. It is owned by the technology entrepreneur Peter Wilkinson.

Chief executive Bryn Sage said: “We are combining innovation from Inhealthcare and ADI with a willingness to use this technology in the Leeds’ GP community to create a new service to help deliver innovation in the NHS.”

He said that allowing people to self-manage conditions can reduce the demand on the NHS and help it meet cost-saving targets of up to £22bn.

Mr Sage said the NHS is the only British industry that has failed to embrace the power of technology to drive efficiencies. He gave the example of travel agents and financial services where technology has transferred tasks to consumers.

Dr Jamie O’Shea, clinical lead for elective care at NHS Leeds West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The three CCGs in Leeds are committed to improving the quality of life for patients with chronic pain.

“By investing in the latest digital technology to support our patients we’ve demonstrated that we want to help patients be at the centre of their care.

“By using the PainSense app patients can take greater control of their own health so that they are able to lead as normal and active lifestyle as possible.

“Patients have the reassurance that the app allows their GP to remotely monitor the management of their condition.”

He said the investment will help reduce the number of GP appointments and emergency hospital admissions for patients.