The community acquired pneumonia (CAP) virtual ward supports people at home, rather than in hospital. It provides monitoring, assessments and interventions for patients clinically diagnosed with CAP who were admitted to hospital.
It was launched at a critical time where winter pressures and acute respiratory infections were on the rise. This service created additional capacity in the Leicester hospital and helped to free up beds. It aided the team to manage their caseloads more effectively.
The virtual ward uses Clinitouch, a remote patient monitoring platform. Patients are given access to the Clinitouch app and remote monitoring equipment to use at home. They are safely discharged on to the virtual ward for up to 14 days. Each day patients are monitored by the Specialist Pneumonia Intervention Nursing (SPIN) team. If a patient moves outside agreed parameters on Clinitouch they are flagged as amber or red and interventions are made.
The SPIN team rapidly embraced the technology-enabled virtual ward, enrolling over 40 patients in the first few months.
Leanne Small, SPIN Nurse Lead, comments:
"Using a virtual ward is an addition to our services and a brand-new way of working for us, and something we have quickly adapted to. It offers our patients more individualised care in the comfort of their own home and helps in their recovery.
When using the Clinitouch platform, we find it easy to use and user-friendly. Even team members who are less confident with technology got to grips with it quickly. We know that if we feel confident with Clinitouch, so will our patients, and it's putting that confidence out to patients."
Leanne Small, SPIN Nurse Lead comments:
“To help patients get used to the idea of being on a virtual ward, we engage them from the start and gauge what they’re comfortable with. We explain how to use the Clinitouch app, how long they’re likely to be on the virtual ward and how they are connected to the pneumonia team.
We clarify that a virtual ward is an added step to help you recover in the comfort of your home, so we find patients are quite receptive to that. In the nicest way, we say that we don’t want to be seeing them again!”
"I found the whole experience brilliant and reassuring that the specialist pneumonia healthcare team were monitoring me. The team were amazing and would ring me to say my observations were ﬁne which eased my mind and helped my recovery."
Madhu, 70, pneumonia virtual ward patient
“I knew if there was anything worrying, it would get picked up quickly. It helped that using the equipment and answering questions on Clinitouch was straightforward.”
Jill, 75, pneumonia virtual ward patient
We’re looking to continue to provide as much out-of-hospital care as we can through our virtual ward service. This is especially crucial for those patients who don’t need to be in a hospital bed. We are working within our clinical teams to explore how we can further expand our service into the community.
This includes catching people in the Emergency Department before they are admitted into the hospital. We’re also working with teams across Leicestershire to share learnings across pathways, using these insights to further improve our services.