How to design virtual wards: 5 tips to set you up for success
New guidance1 for Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) aims for each ICS to deliver up to 24,000 virtual ward beds by December 2023. The targets set out by NHS England and NHS Improvement are ambitious with a recent article2 suggesting that only 80 virtual wards exist across 51 NHS trusts at the moment. The question for many ICSs will be where to start.
Our experience delivering tech-enabled virtual wards across NHS primary and secondary care has left us with valuable insights into what it takes to succeed. Watch our webinar on designing virtual wards on demand to find out discuss how to set up your virtual wards service for success, and read some of our top tips below.
1. Create the right team
Virtual wards can present a significant change to long-established ways of working. This is particularly challenging in large, complex organisations such as hospitals where change can be slow and incremental. Therefore, to build efficient, successful and sustainable virtual ward services, you must ensure buy-in from all relevant stakeholders early on.
Identifying the key individuals and departments that need to be involved in setting up a virtual ward can be difficult. Delivering virtual ward projects depends on creating the right teams and identifying and involving relevant individuals early in the process to avoid hold-ups further down the line.
Senior personnel, from both the clinical and operational sides, that need to be involved when planning to launch a virtual ward include:
- Chief Executive Officer
- Transformation Leads
- Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIOs)
- Chief Nursing Information Officers (CNIOs)
- Clinical Directors
- Lead consultants and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) for the services implementing the virtual wards
2. Define your goal
You need to know what you’re trying to achieve from the start if you want to know whether your virtual ward is a success. Each project should have a clear goal, whether it’s to avoid acute admissions, improve specific clinical outcomes, or support early discharge.
Normally the project goal will be determined by the project owner, who is often a senior manager or clinician, but its value should be clear to all stakeholders and address a genuine pain point. Without this, clinicians responsible for managing the virtual wards may become disengaged, seeing the project as an additional burden being forced upon them. Whilst senior management and clinicians might decide to prioritise different metrics or outcomes based on their own needs, everyone must support the overarching objective of the project.
3. Scope time and resource requirements
Once you have your goal you need to understand and be realistic about what is necessary to deliver the project. Developing a robust plan with relevant stakeholders, and setting up an appropriate governance structure and project management team takes time, but is essential for your service to be a success. These steps also require input from people inside the organisation who understand it best.
Project teams can include existing clinical, transformation and project management teams, but additional resources may be required. Our experience working with over 20 NHS sites allows us to provide realistic expectations on time and resource requirements for each project. Internal staff may have competing demands or a lack of experience in remote patient monitoring, meaning that external resources are sometimes required to staff virtual wards. By partnering with leading external nursing agencies we can advise clients and take action if capacity or skills gaps are anticipated.
4. Design a virtual ward that draws on existing services
Virtual wards should be designed to meet the needs of the hospitals, trusts and clinical teams involved and, most of all, the patients under their care. A successful virtual ward project requires a discovery and planning phase before jumping into the rollout. A large part of that discovery phase should be spent understanding what services already exist and figuring out how best to leverage and enhance them, not necessarily re-design them.
Including someone familiar with existing services in the design process is critical to ensuring that virtual wards fit within, and harness, what is already being done well. Experienced specialist nurses are typically best suited to help with this part of the design process as they are the people most familiar with both inpatient and outpatient services for their speciality.
5. Before going live make a plan to evaluate success
To know whether the virtual ward is delivering what was intended you must put a clear evaluation and evidence generation strategy in place before going live. It’s essential to understand what metrics you will need to capture, how you will measure them, and how often. These metrics should be built into the service design with feedback loops so you’re able to learn and improve throughout the project, not just at the end. The domains of evidence generation that we focus on include clinical capacity and productivity, clinical outcomes, patient experience, and impact on resources and workflows.
For example, assessing whether virtual wards had an impact on clinical capacity might rely on knowing the average length of stay, or readmission rates and waiting times, whereas qualitative interviews and surveys would give a better understanding of the impact on patient engagement and satisfaction. If you don’t plan for evaluation, and ensure you have the relevant historical or baseline data to make comparisons, it will be hard to evidence and evaluate whether the virtual ward service has been a success.
Find out more about Huma’s digital virtual wards platform and watch our webinar on demand to find out how to design virtual wards that deliver benefits for patients, clinicians and the NHS.
- NHS England 2022, Supporting information for ICS leads: Enablers for success: virtual wards including hospital at home [Online] Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/enablers-for-success-virtual-wards/ [Accessed 3 May 2022]
- Illman J 2022, NHS will not hit virtual wards target, internal data suggests, Health Service Journal [Online] Available at: https://www.hsj.co.uk/quality-and-performance/nhs-will-not-hit-virtual-wards-target-internal-data-suggests/7032539.article [Accessed 12 July 2022]
2022: progress and partnership
As 2022 comes to a close, we reflect on the progress we’ve made over the last 12 months in driving a digital-first approach to care and research, enabling people to live longer, fuller lives.
6 ways remote patient monitoring can help drive MedTech revenue
Remote patient monitoring enables providers to harness the power of real-world data and real-world evidence to increase revenue. Find out how in our latest blog.
AI detects patients at highest risk of COVID-19 mortality
Peer-reviewed research published in Nature Scientific Reports
Atos and Huma support Symbiosis Hospital to expand care capacity
Huma’s ‘hospital at home’ technology will expand care capacity in Pune, India by up to 60%
Bayer Partners with Huma on Bayer Aspirin Heart Risk Assessment Tool
We’ve partnered with Bayer, a leading global life sciences company, have partnered to develop the Bayer Aspirin Heart Risk Assessment, an online tool that quickly assesses an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Breaking the bias in cardiovascular disease
How digital-first care and research can address the gender bias in cardiovascular disease
Decentralized trial sees increased adherence to heart medication
A study testing if a cardiac trial could be run entirely remotely found rapid recruitment, high engagement and that patients with low baseline increased their medication adherence from 85% to 96%.
Digital health technology offers a way out of the annual winter NHS crisis
As we head towards yet another ‘worst winter on record’, Dr Mert Aral explains how digital health technology can solve the annual NHS crisis.
Digital support against Covid-19 in Germany
Press release: German states focus on patient care via app
Do’s and Don’ts of setting up virtual wards
When it comes to virtual wards, the opportunities for the health sector are immense, but how do you know where to start? We asked industry experts to join us on a panel to discuss some of the do's and don'ts for setting up virtual wards.
Driving Patient Safety with Digital Technology
Patient safety may be paramount across healthcare, but we are a long way from ‘first, do no harm’. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that medication errors cause US$ 42 billion of global total health expenditure worldwide, 50% of the overall preventable harm in medical care.
Exploring the future of De-centralized and Hybrid Trials: Huma at SCOPE 2023
SCOPE 2023 in Orlando was a summit for clinical ops executives to learn about DCTs. Huma's DCT team shared insights on digital-driven DCTs. Attendees discussed innovative solutions, increasing uptake and appetite for DCTs, and Huma's patient-centric solution.
FT 1000: Huma named Europe's fastest growing healthcare company
Press release: Huma listed in the Top 25 for all sectors
Fierce biotech webinar
Taking the "clinic" out of clinical trials and healthcare: Bridging research and care with digital tools
Fixing the foundations: building a solid evidence base for digital health
Our Global Clinical Directors Arrash Yassaee and Peter Kirpalani-Collins explain the importance of clinical rigour and evidence generation in digital health and how we’re doing things differently here at Huma.
HSJ Value Awards 2021
Huma has been shortlisted as a finalist for the HSJ Value Awards 2021.
How Huma technology can reduce burnout on virtual wards
Expectations are high when you hold people’s lives in your hands, so it is little wonder that physicians report emotional exhaustion and feeling overextended, plus a feeling of depersonalization.
How Virtual Ward Technology Offers Relief to An Overburdened NHS
Our 21 page guide to Virtual Wards, brings together Huma’s 10 years of experience in implementing remote patient monitoring and virtual wards in the NHS
How can digital solutions empower and support heart failure patients?
We launched a 12-week remote patient monitoring pilot with Cwm Taf and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Boards
How decentralized and hybrid trials can drive efficiencies beyond the pandemic
Huma’s Nico O'Kuinghttons discusses how we can drive more efficient decentralized and hybrid clinical trials post-pandemic
How digital-first care is improving health equity
We are at a pivotal time for the healthcare industry. At Huma, we believe that everyone should have an opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Read more about why we believe that digital-first care can promote health equity.
How our Huma app drives engagement in population health research
In a recent study, we teamed up with researchers from the University of Cambridge in a fully remote sub-study of the Fenland longitudinal cohort. Discover what we learned in this blog.
How our digital CVD risk model can help reduce avoidable deaths
Our research was published in European Heart Journal Digital Health (EHJ-DH)
How to accelerate digital adoption across the UK healthcare system
We have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital health. There is so much more that can be achieved with the adoption of remote patient monitoring - but how can we accelerate it?
How to design virtual wards: 5 tips to set you up for success
Our clinical deployment lead, Dr Terry Deeny shares his top tips for designing successful virtual ward programmes based on Huma’s experience supporting the NHS.
How we help tackle cardiac surgical waiting lists
We worked with Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals to remotely monitor and prioritise deteriorating patients.
Huma + AstraZeneca: pioneering end-to-end digital-first care and research
In March, we announced our pioneering partnership with the world-leading pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca (AZ) to scale innovation in digital health. Hear from Abby Staible, AZ’s Director of Commercial Digital Health about the impact and what’s to come in 2023.
Huma Appoints Kaushik Gune as Head of U.S. Healthcare Business to Promote Adoption of Digital Health Solutions
Huma has appointed Kaushik Gune as the company’s new U.S. Head of Healthcare
Huma acquires iPLATO Healthcare to advance digital-first delivery of care
The two companies will combine their expertise to provide remote patient monitoring for NHS patients
Huma and AstraZeneca Partner to Accelerate Innovation for Digital-First Patient Care
Huma acquires AstraZeneca’s digital health platform AMAZE™ and AstraZeneca becomes a shareholder of Huma
Huma and RARE-X partner to accelerate research
Press release: RARE-X’s federated data platform will pair with Huma’s DCT platform to accelerate research
Huma and Tamer bring digital ‘hospital at home’ platform to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tamer will bring Huma’s ‘hospitals at home’ technology to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to tackle diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Huma announces US expansion
Press release: Experienced industry leaders create founding US Huma team
Huma appoints Shahram Sharif as Chief Business Officer - Medtech to accelerate digital-first use in the medtech industry
Sharif joins Huma to lead business development activities for digital companion app product
Huma calls for safeguarding of scientific collaboration
CEO & Founder Dan Vahdat speaks at World Economic Forum event in Davos.
Huma collaborates with Bayer to advance precision treatment for lung cancer
Medical technology powered using artificial intelligence
Huma finds way to measure breathing rate using entry-level smartphone gyroscopes
Huma researchers have verified a way to measure breathing rate using the gyroscopes in entry-level smartphones.
Huma highlights - 2022
2022 was a landmark year for Huma. Take a look back over 2022 and review our key achievements, highlights and partnerships, alongside some of our biggest successes.
Huma joins digital pioneers to advance health equity in care and research
Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Dan Vahdat, is returning to the annual World Economic Forum’s main conference where he will join a panel discussion devoted to improving care for non-communicable disease and tackling health equity.
Huma joins forces with independent healthcare provider to launch virtual ward service for the NHS
Huma and Xyla Elective Care will work together to deliver tech-enabled virtual wards for the NHS
Huma launches digital-first population health programme to identify and manage cardiovascular disease
Huma forms a new partnership with Camden Health Partners and UCL Partners, supported by a grant from the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare, to deliver a digital-first programme for those at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Huma raises $130 million financing to scale its digital health platform for better care and research
Leading names in health and technology fund expansion
Huma to attend 41st Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference
Dan Vahdat, and Chief Financial and Strategy Officer, Ingeborg Oie, will be attending the main conference at the upcoming 41st Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
Huma to provide best-in-class digital clinical trials solutions through landmark acquisition of Alcedis
Huma today announced that it has acquired Alcedis GmbH (“Alcedis”), a market-leader for data driven clinical research and technology.
Huma wins prestigious Prix Galien USA 2021 award
Huma’s remote patient monitoring technology is awarded ‘pharma’s Nobel Prize’
Huma wins ‘best of the best’ Prix Galien International 2022 award
Huma has won the Prix Galien International 2022 ‘best of the best digital health product’ award for the impact of its remote patient monitoring platform across healthcare and research.
Huma’s collaborative Covid-19 project wins HSJ Value Award
Our teams enabled better patient care and doubled clinical capacity with our hospital at home technology.
Huma’s peer-reviewed research links bedtime with heart health
Our peer-reviewed research explored the link between time of sleep and risk of cardiovascular disease in over 88,000 people
Hybrid vs decentralized clinical trials: weighing the options for optimal results
If the technology you are using and the team of experts implementing it don’t allow you the flexibility of running either a fully decentralised or a hybrid trial, it is probably not the best solution, furthermore, decentralisation shouldn’t mean that you must spend more money.
Increasing clinical trial success rates with adaptive technology
Overall, adaptive trials are more efficient, take less time to complete, and need fewer participants. By allowing for pre-planned modifications to a trial’s design after it has begun, adaptive trials make much better use of resources and money.
Keeping patients safe at home with virtual wards.
Digital health has an important role to play in reducing patient harm and improving safety. This blog explores some of the key challenges, insights and learnings that enable safer patient care when using digital technology.
Key themes from this year's MedTech Conference 2022
MedTech Conference 2022, in Boston, one of MedTech’s leading annual events, has wrapped up, and we caught up with our Huma MedTech team to get the low down on all the industry buzz from this year's show.
Largest decentralised study of its kind shows high levels of engagement with Huma’s study app
Huma announces results of the largest population-based study, exploring how digital technologies can support population research.
Mediclinic Middle East launches Mediclinic at Home
A new remote care monitoring system for patients suffering from chronic conditions
Meet Huma at J.P.Morgan
Book a meeting with Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Dan Vahdat, and Chief Financial and Strategy Officer, Ingeborg Oie, in person at the J.P. Morgan annual healthcare conference.
Microsoft White Paper: Trends Shaping the Future of Clinical Trials
Microsoft explores the future of clinical trials and how decentralization, using tools like Huma’s, could be the key to shaping their future.
NHS Long Term Plan Webinar Series
How digital technology is helping to battle the growing waiting list backlog
Our digital health platform is now certified as a Class IIb medical device - but what does that actually mean?
Huma has become the first and only multi-condition EU MDR Class IIb regulatory approval for its configurable SaMD disease management platform. In this article, Rudolf Wagner, Huma's Global Director of Regulatory Affairs, explains what this achievement means for the future of health care.
Pharma and digital health must join forces for patients
Dan Vahdat, CEO and Founder of Huma, discusses how we are working with pharma partners to improve clinical outcomes through digital health solutions.
Powering COVID-19 virtual wards for better patient outcomes
Researchers have found that COVID-19 mortality rates were up to four times lower and hospital stays decreased by forty percent with Huma’s technology¹.
Remote patient monitoring pilot shortlisted for two prestigious HSJ Awards
The project has been nominated in the ‘Digitising Patient Care’ category at the HSJ Awards and ‘Virtual or Remote Care Initiative of the Year’ category at the HSJ Patient Safety Awards.
Shifting the dial from reactive to proactive healthcare
We believe digital healthcare tools can transform the proactive healthcare model by offering a more holistic insight into a patient’s health over time. Find out how in this blog written by our Global Clinical Director Dr. Arrash Yassaee.
Smith+Nephew partner with Huma
Press release: Smith+Nephew and Huma develop RPM app to assist the restart of UK orthopaedic surgery
Taking the ‘clinic’ out of clinical trials
Bridging research and care with digital tools
Ten highlights from 2021, our 10th anniversary year
How we’re helping ~two million users across our platforms and people around the world live longer, fuller lives
Three ways that digital-first care can improve patient safety
During the COVID-19 pandemic the public were under quarantine orders preventing many patients from seeking care. A study on remote-patient monitoring showed that digital-first care provided a safe and effective option for patients with COVID-19.
Virtual Wards vital to help NHS tackle ‘substantial’ pressures
Huma welcome the Government’s announcement to accelerate the roll out of digital technology to provide an extra 2,500 virtual ward ‘beds’¹.
Webinar: Advancing digital-first delivery of care
Huma and iPLATO (myGP) hosted a joint webinar on how we can bring digital-first care to patients at scale
Webinar: Bridging the digital divide for improved patient diversity
Huma joined leading industry experts for a Reuters Events webinar on fostering diversity in decentralized and hybrid clinical trials
Webinar: Bringing the hospital home via digital virtual wards
Watch our webinar with leaders from the NHS and the AHSH Network.
Webinar: Empowering patients and relieving pressure on the NHS
Learn how Huma’s technology helps clinicians improve outcomes for heart failure patients and identify deteriorating cardiac surgery patients with almost 90% specificity
What Huma has learned from COVID-19
Three important lessons on how COVID-19 is shaping modern medicine
Why we acquired iPLATO (myGP)
Huma & iPLATO (myGP) join to create new possibilities in healthcare and research
World Patient Safety Day: supporting medicine safety with digital tools
For World Patient Safety Day in 2022, our Global Clinical Director Peter Kirpalani-Collins explains how digital healthcare tools can help keep patients safe by monitoring their symptoms and medication use.