Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust expands use of virtual wards following successful monitoring of recovering COVID-19 patients

Posted: May 12 2021

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust expands use of virtual wards following successful monitoring of recovering COVID-19 patients

● Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust is the first community trust to partner with medical technology company Doccla to provide the company’s first virtual ward system for recovering COVID-19 patients

● Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust is working with local healthcare partners to expand the service to benefit a wider range of clinically suitable patients, for example those with heart failure or pneumonia

● The collaboration is also looking to explore the system’s potential to be used to help improve surgical waiting lists.

Watch this video to hear HCT patient Mr Brian Mannion's story.

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) has collaborated with East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, NHS East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Princess Alexandra Hospital, HUC and medical technology company Doccla to support 50 COVID-19 patients to recover at home once discharged from hospital through an innovative virtual ward system.

Once COVID-19 or chronic patients are considered to be clinically suitable for the virtual ward care option, they are discharged from hospital equipped with state-of-the-art medical monitoring tools, provided by Doccla to work with its virtual ward platform.

Every day, each patient’s monitoring tools send automated readings and alerts of routine measurements including blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels and temperature via Doccla’s platform to HCT clinicians, who will review and take any action necessary. Any abnormal readings are flagged and the patient is contacted to determine if any additional intervention is needed. Patients also receive regular routine calls from HCT’s Prevention of Admission team to check in on their physical and mental wellbeing.

The success HCT has seen with the use of virtual wards means the trust is already expanding the service to support the care of heart failure and pneumonia patients. The collaboration is also now exploring the system’s potential to be used to help improve surgical waiting lists. This will involve monitoring patients before their operation, to reduce the risk of cancellation due to issues such as anaemia or high blood pressure, and afterwards to allow them to return home earlier for their recovery.

100% of patients surveyed agreed this equipment was easy to use*, with 97% of those surveyed* agreeing that the virtual ward system was helpful in managing their health condition.

Launched in January 2021, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust’s Prevention of Admission service introduced remote monitoring for COVID-19 patients, using the Doccla virtual ward system, toenable clinically-suitable patients to be transferred from the hospital care of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust and Princess Alexandra Hospital to at-home monitoring. Patients recuperating at home were then under the remote care of community-based clinicians. The system is also suitable for patients who can be monitored without an initial hospital admission, sometimes avoiding the need for a hospital stay completely.

Robert Thrower, a patient from Stevenage said: “COVID really wiped me out. Being able to leave the hospital early and be at home with my children around me has been wonderful. The system is very easy to use, very user-friendly. The equipment they provided was obviously top of the range and everything was explained simply and clearly.

“My daughter did an incredible job looking after me, but it gave me peace of mind to know there was a nursing team keeping an eye on me all the time too and the pressure wasn’t just on my family. There were a few occasions when my temperature was higher than it should be and I got a call from a nurse within minutes to check on me. Once on one of my regular calls with her I said I felt a bit chesty and within hours two nurses were knocking at my door ready to listen to my chest and take bloods. I really appreciated the human connection, it wasn’t just about my physical health. The service I received was out of this world, truly exceptional care, and I honestly think it saved my life.”

Dr Elizabeth Kendrick, HCT Medical Director, said, “This is a fantastic example of healthcare collaboration made possible by the strong relationships we have with our acute and primary care colleagues across the region, combined with the medical technological expertise provided by Doccla. I’m excited to see how this innovation can be rolled out to support many more patients with a variety of health conditions in the near future.”

Dag Larsson, CEO and cofounder of Doccla, said, “We are reimagining hospital care in a post-COVID-19 world, presenting a new way to deliver healthcare in the home safely and effectively. COVID-19 has fast-tracked the adoption of remote patient monitoring into the NHS but, as Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust has seen, the technology produces benefits beyond the COVID-19 ward. As cases decline, there is room to offer a safe, effective way of managing additional chronic and acute patients when they leave hospital.”


*38 HCT patients were surveyed by Doccla on 6 March 2021

All clinical responsibility remains with Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, with Doccla providing a service that makes it possible to monitor patients remotely.

Doccla does not replace standard NHS advice and patients are encouraged to call 111 if they are concerned or 999 in an emergency as normal.

If you are a journalist or media representative requiring further information contact our communications team on (01707) 388148 or via communications@hct.nhs.uk