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Patients trial iPad health tracker

Orthopaedic patients first to try HealthUnlocked Tracker

Louise Prime

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Patients at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital are trialling the UK’s first online health tracker. The iPad-based system allows patients to record live online their recovery from spinal surgery, and feeds information back to clinicians so that over time they can assess the effectiveness of treatment.

HealthUnlocked Tracker was launched at the RNOH this morning by health secretary Andrew Lansley, who said: “This is a great example of how healthcare innovation can make a real difference to patients’ lives.

“We want to modernise the NHS because we believe that patients deserve the best and most innovative treatments available. We are committed to creating an environment in the NHS where new medical technologies like this can flourish.”

While in clinic, patients record their progress on an iPad then once they get home they use the same system to track their progress over the internet.

The Department of Health claims many benefits for HealthUnlocked Tracker including:

  • Doctors and nurses access the live system instantly to assess a patient’s progress
  • Surgeons track the value of the operations they carry out
  • Hospitals and commissioners can quantify the benefits of different types of operations
  • An estimated 300 new outpatient appointment slots per consultant surgeon per year could be created in the RNOH
  • 95% of patients prefer the new online process to the traditional pen and paper method.
  • Traditional methods of reporting on PROMs have rarely been accessible in a clinic – this system allows best use to be made of the information.

Mr Matthew Shaw, consultant spinal surgeon at the RNOH and the lead surgeon in the trial, explains: “Having accurate information at my fingertips about my patients’ recovery is groundbreaking. It ensures that I can quickly get to grips with their perspective and provide them with first-rate healthcare. As well as saving me time it will also create new insights about spinal surgery for the NHS as a whole.”

He added: “Some patients with very rapid recoveries require less intensive follow-up than those with slower or more problematic recoveries. This gives me more flexibility to assess this in advance, and better tailor my time to my patients’ needs.”

Picture credit: Frank Gaertner / Shutterstock.com

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