Leeds digital specialists accelerate ‘virtual clinic’ platform

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated plans for a “virtual clinic” platform, created by digital healthcare specialists at Nexus to relieve pressure on the NHS.

Itecho Health, created by former NHS doctor Adrian Brown and digital tech expert Lalit Suryawanshi, has more than doubled its output on the digital platform: Ascelus, to bring forward development of the platform which includes apps for patients and medical teams, which is designed to manage long-term conditions and reduce the need for face to face appointments.

A team of eight medical students from the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine have been recruited on a six-week elective period with Itecho Health to help the team fast-track its plans.

Dr Adrian Brown comments: “Our objective with Ascelus has always been to relieve some of the burdens on our health service, by creating a virtual clinic, where chronic conditions can be managed through online communication with clinicians.

“The COVID-19 public health crisis has given that objective an even greater focus. Outpatient visits have stopped. Doctors are increasingly having telephone consultations with their patients and there is growing concern that the most vulnerable patients are avoiding going to hospital for vital check-ups and treatment.”

Group shot of 3 members of the Itecho Health team, stood and smiling to camera- taken before lockdown

The Ascelus platform allows patients with long term conditions which need regular monitoring, to input and track their own symptoms. Doctors can access the patient’s blood and pathology results on the app, review them and send on to the patient with any messages and advice.

Before the Coronavirus outbreak, Itecho Health had been developing the app based on one long-term condition and had anticipated expanding to six conditions over the next three years.

The team is now working with Leeds Teaching Hospitals and London’s King’s College and St Thomas’s Hospitals, on 22 long-term conditions, including blood cancers, lung and prostate cancer, renal and liver failure and rheumatoid arthritis and is sharing its insights with them to support their work during the current crisis.

Dr Adrian Brown added: “We’re also developing the app’s capacity to monitor patients’ treatment and outcomes when they are taken into intensive care for treatment for COVID-19, working with the NHS and health providers in other countries to capture vital data.

“Whatever we can do to help our health service during these challenging times is obviously important and as we emerge from the crisis, managing and improving care pathways for those living with long-term conditions will continue to be a key objective for patients, clinicians and commissioners. Digital innovation will play a vital part in that process.”

Dr Martin Stow, Nexus Director, said: “Nexus is all about the benefits of collaboration, so we’re delighted to see Itecho Health working with the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine on this vital project. Not only will it support our NHS during the current crisis, it will create a digital platform for the future care of patients with chronic conditions.”

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