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King's College Hospital goes mobile for arthritis patient care

King’s College Hospital London is aiming to improve patient care in its rheumatology department by introducing a new mobile app to patients.

The application is intended to give those suffering from chronic arthritis more control and management over their appointments and treatment courses via their own mobile devices.

This will then reduce waiting times and increase patient empowerment as patients are now able to see and input information into the system when they wish, rather than having to wait until they a physically in the hospital.

24N caught up with a consultant who shares his time between consulting at King's College Hospital and teaching at King’s College, Dr James Galloway to learn more about the project so far and what the future holds.

Dr Galloway told us that the decision to invest in a mobile solution to help patients was made because the hospital is continuously striving to improve care.

As arthritis is a chronic illness, it requires those diagnosed to take make a lot of adjustments, including frequent appointments and tests, as well a lot of medication.

“It’s a lot for the patient to take on board,” Dr Galloway told us, further explaining that the NHS is ever evolving and now more than ever, is a pressure to achieve more with less and clinicians are now spending less time with patients.

Staff at King's College Hospital had already identified that patients with arthritis welcomed mobile touchscreen technology as it is easy on their hands.

The organisation was already trialling iPads where patients were asked to input certain data onto this device before appointments.

“We had already been discussing ways that we could improve care with patient groups and there was a consensus from patients that communication and understanding within the department could be improved through IT,” Dr Galloway said.

“Contrary to our expectations, even senior patients produced their iPhones and said they would be keen to see our department moving into the 21st century with technology.

“I have seen so many examples of how mobile technology has helped in other similar instances, I was convinced that the ideas my colleagues and the patients had would be helpful. We didn’t know what it would look like, but we thought a simple mobile app would really be the place to start,” he added.

While beneficial, it soon became clear that a number of benefits could be realised if the patients were able to carry out certain tasks on their own devices instead a limited number of iPads owned by the hospital.

King's College Hospital then received funding from the South London Membership Council Innovation, Diffusion and Excellence Awards in Healthcare Education and Training.

As it already knew it wanted to build a mobile application, it decided to find a local app developer to use the funding on.

Working With Ampersand Mobile

Those chosen company was Mobile First agency Ampersand Mobile which set out to help the rheumatology department give patients greater control over managing their care.

“We believe that patient empowerment is a key factor in improving patient care in this area. We wanted to demonstrate to management that mobile technology could be a really powerful ally in this process,” said Dr Galloway.

The app boasts a user-friendly, practical, intuitive interface that allows patients to track appointments, capture data including blood test requirements and results, confidentially complete and submit healthcare questionnaires, find their way around the hospital and contact necessary people.

As patients can complete these tasks in their own time using their own technology, the time in which they need to spend in hospital is decreased and increases patient satisfaction.

Those already using the app have positive feedback, and Dr Galloway expects intake to gradually increase and the hospital’s relationship with Ampersand Mobile to continue.