Care wards

Collecting data within the healthcare industry is imperative to working toward improving the treatment and services those in the medical professional provide, so it is understandable that the process must be managed efficiently and effectively. Data can be collected from a variety of resources, from patients to doctors and nurses, and used for a number of different reasons. In this article, we will be focusing on the purpose of collecting data to ensure the success of virtual wards, discussing who we turn to for data, what we do with the data we have collected and how it is used in the future…


What are virtual wards?

You might think of virtual ward as some sort of computer controlled patient care, but virtual ward is simply a term to describe an individual who is being treated from his or her own home. They are treated by doctors and nurses, as they would be if they were in a hospital, and benefiting from daily routine care, but all in the comfort of their own home. Virtual wards were created for individuals who require unique medical attention and complex social needs that would either have to keep returning to hospital or would need a permanent bed. For example, for those in palliative care who would prefer to spend their last days at home with family in friends, or elderly patients whose hospital visits are only likely to increase, virtual wards provide for them the care they need, while relieving the pressure on hard-pressed wards.


Who is eligible for virtual ward?

NHS organisations such as those in South Devonshire and Croydon use computer models with complex algorithms to identify those individuals who are at high risk of future unplanned hospital admissions. Patients are measured using a risk score compared to other patients in the same area based on data collected from GP practice systems, hospital attendance and admissions records, as well as that available from ambulance services, namely non-conveyances. This data will also be combined with other risk factors that might indicate the likelihood of a person being readmitted to hospital, taking into account the number of long-term conditions they face, medication they are on and how many times they have been admitted to hospital in an emergency. Data outside of the predictive model paradigm such as real-time data is also collected from individuals who are currently being cared for in hospital and are likely to need further care for the foreseeable.


What happens next?

Once the data is collected and analysed, the patients whose risk scores indicate they may be admitted to hospital within the year are extracted and offered virtual ward that will provide them with extra support and care, as well as enable those who must remain within the hospital to receive better care too. Everybody who is involved in any one patient’s care will have monthly meetings to discuss the patient’s needs and requirements and each patient will be assigned a case manager. The case manager will have ongoing contact with the patient throughout their care in a virtual mode, and it is their responsibility to plan and manage that patient’s care. The predictive modelling technique enables case managers to plan care from an early stage, allowing them to be better prepared for an emergency.


What does the future hold?

In the case of South Devon and Torbay, the number of patients admitted to virtual wards in the baseline (1st) year did increase but the number of re-admittance decreased for the cohort group (the top half percent that require virtual wards) by 25% suggesting that care is effective. For South Devon this reduced one unplanned admission a day in a hospital resulting in major cost savings. The continued success of virtual wards is based on a set criteria being agreed by the people involved in virtual ward admittance, an excellent standard of patient care being maintained, and the effective management and processing of data. At DCC, we are aware of just how important data collection is to the improvement of patient care, especially when the healthcare industry are attempting to introduce new and innovative techniques that must be carefully monitored to ensure their benefits toward patients.


Document Capture Company have a great deal of experience in qualitative and quantitative healthcare data capture and provide a range of data collection solutions in order for you accumulate and analyse accurate, usable data. Our dynamic interactive dashboard solutions allow you to visually map out your data to attain actionable insights via an interactive means of analysis. The pattern formulation and unique display abilities of the dashboard can be very effective in displaying the predictive model data and risk scores, as the automatic colour co-ordination programming method enables risk scores to be colour coded to correlate to the chances of a patient requiring admittance to a virtual ward.


If you would like further information on how data management and virtual wards can be enhanced by DCC, take a look at the South Devon and Torbay case study online. To find out how we can help you with a specific project you have in mind, get in touch, today. Read more about what we do and where our passion, ethics and morals are derived from.


Like it? Share it!