As hospitals start to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, outpatients clinics face huge backlogs. In this period of clearing the backlog the Living with remote monitoring app – successfully implemented by the rheumatology team at Weston General Hospital – has been timely. The initial implementation was done for patient diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. The app enables professionals to monitor the patients’ needs remotely and provides patients with information about ongoing support and guidance on coping with day to day challenges of rheumatoid diseases. Through the app patients can access health care professionals’ resources including the rheumatology specialist nurses, physiotherapy and pharmacists. We were delighted to receive funding from NHS Charities Together to further embed this app’s use.
During the pandemic, we launched patient support group Zoom coffee mornings every six weeks to help rheumatology patients stay connected. These have proved very popular and continue to be a success.
Members of our HIT were involved in the development of the Torbay Shared Decision Making Charts (Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Edition) in collaboration with clinical leads and commissioners from the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group. The charts aim to improve decision making across the musculoskeletal pathway. HIT members continue to be involved in the development of shared decision-making tools for musculoskeletal conditions. NIHR Research Capability Funding has been secured and the evaluation of these tools is underway.
HIT members are also involved in the development, evaluation and implementation of the STAR (Support and Treatment After Replacement) Care Pathway which aims to identify and address the underlying causes of chronic pain after knee replacement to ensure better outcomes for patients. On 6 February 2022, BBC Points West featured the STAR Care Pathway following publication of the trial results in The Lancet. It is also featured on the BBC website.
In December 2021 we welcomed two new directors. Dr Andrew Moore, a University of Bristol Senior Research Fellow specialising in musculoskeletal health and orthopaedic outcomes, has been leading the evaluation of the shared decision-making charts and is involved in their further development. Ms Louise Thorne, our new patient co-director, brings a wealth of knowledge in patient and public involvement and experience through her involvement in patient support groups.