The initial divide between consumer wearables and clinical medicine may be shrinking. A group of medical and technology entities in the United Kingdom launched a model that integrates wearable Health Tech with medical data and clinical care. The focus on epilepsy was an easy choice. Epilepsy affects about one in 100 people in the U.K., or approximately 600,000 people. Epilepsy accounts for 1.3 million hospital bed days per year, according to the National Health Service. Treatment costs amount to $2 billion annually.
The Epilepsy Care Alliance consortium formed in 2016 to radically improve care management and quality of life of people in England with epilepsy. The group members include staff from the University of Kent, the Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust where the program is being piloted, Shearwater Systems electronic records company, and integrated health care company Graphnet. The Epilepsy Care Alliance program, called myCareCentric Epilepsy, collects and integrates data from wearables, smartphones, and patient portals with patient clinical care records.
Patients in the program use a Microsoft Band to track with heart rate, skin conductance, and movement. The wristband transmits data to a smartphone, from which the information is transferred directly to clinical records. According to Shearwater Systems chief executive Dr. Ian Denley, with machine learning and the incoming data, clinicians get real-time notification when patients have or are about to have seizures. The system sends alerts to the patient’s care team, any other listed people on the patient’s alert list, and to the patient him or herself, with advice or notification. The project wants to help patients gain better understanding of themselves and how to manage their condition. Another goal is helping patients learn how to best use the National Health Care services for most effective care.
The NHS epilepsy program demonstrates strategic wearable Health Tech integration with a traditional healthcare system. Controlled health care costs combined with improved patient quality of life serve as a potential double win and could inspire other integrated care programs.