by Dr Debashish Das, CEO and co-founder of Ortus-iHealth – 6th May, 2020

Dr Debashish Das, CEO and co-founder of our SME of the Week, Ortus-iHealth, gives us the lowdown on what the company is doing in response to the COVID-19 crisis…

COVID-19 is the biggest non-war threat to our society since the Spanish-flu. Ortus-iHealth is doing everything within its means to help our heroes at the NHS and patients nationwide to facilitate a service as close to normal. But, we aim for better.

Ortus-iHealth is a specialised healthcare service with a focus on (Out)Patient Management Services. Our goal is to provide quality, efficient and safe patient care while also improving access to services. Through digitization of Outpatient Pathways, we have been able to improve patient experiences and reduce time and workload burdens for clinicians. 

The Ortus-iHealth offering has evolved many times since it was created, adapting to the ever-changing demands of both patient and clinicians. At present, Ortus-iHealth offers the most complete Virtual Clinic platform available. It is the only platform that seamlessly combines:

  • A Patient Portal
  • An appointment management system
  • Remote monitoring (wearables) and Video Conferencing
  • Digital Questionnaires (PROMS, PREMS, Pre-Assessment) and real time data analytics (dashboards)

Our COVID-19 Response:

COVID-19 has drastically shifted the needs and priorities of the NHS. With an increased need for hospital beds and reduced staffing, wards and clinics have been forced to quickly migrate to a virtual environment. Our challenge was to rapidly scale and move face-to-face clinics within the hospital to a digital format (video/questionnaires/remote monitoring).

To make this transition as seamless as possible we created a COVID-19 starter pack for all departments in the hospital. These included:

  1.     Template Patient Information sheets
  2.     Short (1 min long) “How To’ YouTube clips for patients and clinicians.

By removing administrative and technical barriers to the service, clinicians were able to start using Virtual Care services immediately. Some clinics went live within an hour! 

In addition to addressing administrative and educational needs we also developed technical solutions. We developed a utility that would allow for batch registration and appointment generation followed by SMS notifications. With this product it was possible to let multiple patients know of changes to their appointment quickly and efficiently. 

At present, we have been able to take a number of departments virtual including, Cardiology, Oncology, Endocrinology, Respiratory and Cardiac Surgery. Below are a couple of examples of how we have responded and made an impact:

Acute Myocardial Infarct Infarction (AMI)

Prior to COVID-19, Ortus-ihealth partnered with St Bartholomew’s Hospital, the largest Heart Attack Centre in the UK to digitise the AMI Clinical Pathway. Ortus installed a digitised pathway that formalised post Heart Attack outpatient care, reducing appointment cancellation rates and reducing the time between discharge and the first follow-up appointment from 3 months to 8 weeks. 

COVID-19 posed two primary problems: 1) Patients with cardiac history are particularly vulnerable to the virus. 2) The necessity to free up high acuity beds for patients on ventilators.   

Due to pre-existing trust and knowledge in the Ortus product and its ability to securely capture data and facilitate a two-way information flow between the clinician and the patient, the department was able to reduce the post heart attack discharge time from the typical 3-5 days to 1-2 days. In response to this change, the Pathway was amended to allow clinicians to make first contact two days post discharge, another follow-up two weeks later and then the eight-week appointment.  

The alteration in department pathways was only made possible due to the Ortus product having biometric and self-assessment data capture including documenting, patient symptoms, blood pressure and heart rates – which was relayed back to the Clinician. In essence, Ortus had created a Virtual Ward and was being used by clinicians as a Virtual Monitoring System. The changes meant post heart attack patients were less exposed to COVID-19 and there was less pressure on hospital beds.

Gastrointestinal Cancer (GIC)

Post COVID-19, GIC departments had to find an alternative to all face-to-face outpatient appointments for the foreseeable future. Tele-consultations offered an obvious, quick solution however, it would still require hospital administrative resources to change the Clinical Pathway. Using the Ortus platform, GIC departments were able to move all appointments scheduled for March, April, May and June into a virtual setting. Ortus used a recently developed batch SMS onboarding and registration process to re-register all appointments, create new PROMs questionnaires and rebook all appointments with clinicians, all within an afternoon with no extra burden on NHS resources. In addition, customised messages with links to the app and YouTube videos were created for patients to help them familiarise themselves with the platform and to inform them of what is to be expected from their appointments. 

Feedback

Despite rapid deployment under historic conditions, we have been encouraged by both patient and clinician feedback. Below are some statistics we’ve collected:

  • Greater than three out of four of Patients saved more than one hour of personal time using the Ortus platform
  • Almost one in two patients would have had to have taken some form of annual leave had the appointment been face-to-face
  • 85% of patients were Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the experience through the Ortus Platform with 8% reporting they were neutral to the Platform versus a face-to-face appointment. 
  • 90% of clinicians reported to have saved on average more than five minutes per appointment versus a face-to-face appointment
  • 20% of Clinicians reported to have saved on average 30-60 minutes per clinic versus face-to-face clinics, with 70% reporting to have saved on average more than one-hour

Working with DigitalHealth.London

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator has been an invaluable source of information, putting Ortus-iHealth in a position to maximise its offering in supporting the NHS and other Health Care services, particularly in this time of need. We very much appreciate and look forward to working with DigitalHealth.London so that we at Ortus can continue to positively impact health services and empower people around their health.