Patients with Parkinson’s disease are being given smart watches that allow doctors to remotely assess their condition.
Hundreds of patients have already been issued with the watch in the scheme which could be rolled out across the country to around 120,000 people who have Parkinson’s.
The watches contain sensors, known as a Parkinson’s Kinetigraph (PKG), and are worn for six full days to monitor patients’ movements at home.
The information collected is relayed to doctors who can look for signs that their medicines need changing or make other interventions such as physiotherapy to prevent the condition worsening.
The device also buzzes to remind patients to take medication, which they can confirm with a swipe.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Parkinson’s is an incurable illness that has a significant impact on peoples’ lives and this small watch will dramatically improve their quality of life – providing a thorough review of their health and ensuring they get the care they need from the comfort of their own homes.”
As part of this project patients are also given a phone number and email to contact directly for support, and their clinician will then see the patient within 10 days – with around four in five of these appointments taking place over video call.
This approach to treating Parkinson’s patients at home was developed in the NHS in Plymouth, together with the University of Plymouth and University Hospitals Plymouth Trust.
Currently patients are still required to fill out ‘pen and paper’ questionnaires for their doctors, such as to explain possible causes of night-time disturbances that cannot be accounted for by the watch.
An NHS funding boost of half a million pounds is now set to integrate this – as well as all their data and the ability to contact their clinician – into the patient’s electronic records over the next year.
The project is one of 40 that has just been backed by NHS Transformation’s Digital Health Partnership Award.
NHS England’s director of transformation, Dr Tim Ferris, said: “This ground-breaking project is just one of 40 that the NHS are backing through the Digital Health Partnership Award which supports collaboration with patient groups in order to develop innovative new technology-based approaches to caring for patients and is a testament to the commitment of staff across the country to deliver our Long Term Plan commitment and roll out cutting-edge technology as quickly as possible.”
On average, two people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s in England every hour. Parkinson’s UK estimates with population growth and ageing, this is likely to increase by a fifth by 2030.