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King's College Hospital launches mobile app to empower arthritis patients


By Michael Feeley, Founder and chief exec

March 24, 2015 | 3 min read

The rheumatology department of King’s College Hospital has launched a new mobile app designed to improve patient care for those suffering with chronic arthritis.

The app, designed and developed by Ampersand Mobile, allows patients to manage their appointments and treatment courses using their mobile devices and aims to reduce waiting times and increase patient empowerment.

Having worked on a broader strategy piece for Christie NHS Foundation Trust in 2013, which was designed to identify how mobile innovation can address key issues faced by the NHS, Ampersand Mobile were then approached by Dr James Galloway, a consultant at King's College Hospital and clinical lecturer at King's College London, who saw an opportunity to trial a mobile solution.

Dr. Galloway said: "We had already been discussing ways that we could improve care with patient groups and, 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 regards to technology! We thought a simple mobile app would really be the place to start.

"Those with rheumatoid arthritis and related conditions need to come in to the hospital to see a variety of therapists on a regular basis: it could be a standard doctor's visit, physical therapy, blood tests, counselling, or other investigations and tests. A major debilitating factor of the condition is the sense of losing control over your body. That’s why we believe that patient empowerment is a key factor in improving patient care in this area. We also wanted to demonstrate to management that mobile technology could be a really powerful ally in this process."

The app helps the patient to complete a number of tasks that they would have normally had to do during their visits to the hospital. Patients are able to track their appointments; capture data (such as their blood test requirements and the corresponding results); complete and submit health questionnaires confidentially and securely; find their way around the hospital, and contact the relevant people in the department who look after them. Allowing patients to complete such tasks at their own leisure, using their mobile, drastically reduces the amount of time they need to spend at the hospital.

Joo Teoh, managing director of Ampersand Mobile, said: " In designing the solution, we met with Dr. Galloway and his colleagues, as well as patients in the patient feedback group. We wanted to understand what was important to them, where the current frustrations lay, where the sensitivities and emotional triggers were. We then translated these into features that would offer efficiencies and confidentiality where required.”

King’s College Hospital is tracking the adoption and feedback of the app as a test case for wider adoption of digital communications in patient care.

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