How do virtual wards work?
Once patients have been physically discharged or ‘stepped-up’ to a virtual ward, and are at their place of residence, patients or carers are asked to take a range of health readings at home including blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and temperature, using medical devices. They also answer a suite of symptomatic questions to complete their observations.
The readings are fed back to the physical ward and/or a clinical monitoring ‘hub’, any anomalies in the readings are highlighted and clinicians made aware to trigger an intervention.
Equally, if a patient begins to feel unwell, they can use the virtual ward system to quickly alert a clinician, reducing the possibility of emergency re-admission.
Virtual wards are already showing positive results and are about to expand in number as the national programme begins. Examples of vWards include a wide range from paediatrics to cardiology, in community care settings or patients’ individual homes.
for the NHS are growing rapidly across a wide range of specialities, from paediatrics to cardiology, in community care settings or patients’ individual homes, the positive results from virtual wards really are significant.
The benefits of virtual wards
There are a wide range of benefits when it comes to treating patients using virtual wards in the NHS:
- Shortens the length of stay in hospital
- Information recorded is more frequent – providing richer analysis
- Helps keep people in their preferred place of care, improving patients’ mental health
- Facilitates timely and safe discharge
- Encourages collaborative patient care
- Improves communication between all services, patients, and carers
- Patients who may otherwise be readmitted to hospital are being supported in the community, reducing the of readmission rate and could anticipate better titration of medications
- Clinicians can observe patients more comprehensively
How have virtual wards been used during COVID?
Virtual wards were developed and introduced in the UK, coming to prominence during the, Covid-19 pandemic to reduce transmission of infection as well as releasing much needed hospital beds.