UK home care provider Cera has launched a flu-tracking and treatment app to support earlier diagnosis and faster treatment of flu in older population groups.
‘Flu-ID’ technology uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect deterioration in older people’s conditions as a result of flu. The app identifies flu up to thirty times faster than existing methods, prompting carers and nurses to treat patients swiftly and at home, avoiding hospitalisation.
During in-person home visits, nurses and carers take older people’s vital signs (for example temperature, heart rate, blood pressure) along with other health indicators such as nutrition and sleeping patterns. This information is collated in the Flu-ID app, which can be used on smartphones and tablets.
Flu-ID then monitors the recorded data and detects deterioration in the patient’s condition, alerting nurses and carers to the onset of flu symptoms and enabling faster treatment in the patient’s home, rather than in a hospital or surgery.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Flu-ID tracker and treatment app aims to improve flu-related health outcomes for older people over winter, reducing hospitalisations and lessening pressures on the NHS during flu-season.
Flu season is expected to present a significant challenge for the NHS this winter in tandem with COVID-19, with the Academy of Medical Sciences projecting up to 7,000 hospital admissions from flu every week through winter, and the potential for up to 60,000 deaths from the virus.
Allowing nurses and carers to monitor patient conditions remotely, detect flu quickly and treat earlier in an older person’s own home should keep beds and capacity free in hospitals where the app is used in the local community.
THE LARGER TREND
The Flu-ID app has been rolled out to Cera’s network of 10,000 carers and nurses, each of whom receive in-app training, following a trial period to confirm the app’s efficacy. Cera used a similar technology for tracking and treating symptoms of COVID-19 as soon as they were detected.
Cera’s CEO Dr Ben Maruthappu told MobiHealthNews that there are no current plans to roll-out the technology beyond Cera’s care provision network, but that the company is continuing ongoing discussions with the NHS and local authorities.
ON THE RECORD
Maruthappu said: “The key to protecting the NHS this winter, whilst at the same time preventing unnecessary challenges among our older community, is to reduce hospitalisations through faster detection and treatment for flu.
“Every time an older individual is admitted to hospital with flu, they risk catching secondary illnesses including COVID-19, and we’ve learnt from the pandemic that treatment at home, where possible, leads to better outcomes.”
With Flu-ID, Maruthappu hopes Cera can “protect our community through what promises to be a difficult winter for the health and social care sector.”