- Led by the University of Southampton, in partnership with Wessex Academic Health Science Network, the University of Nottingham, Northumbria University, The Ear Foundation, the National Cochlear Implant Users Association and IE Digital.
- New remote care service to be offered to UK adults who use cochlear implants.
- Aims to improve access to care and increase patient empowerment.
- Will scale up a successful service where patients are offered a personalised online support tool, home hearing test and support to adjust devices themselves.
Each year around 1,500 people in the UK have a cochlear implant, an electronic medical device that replaces the function of a damaged inner ear. These patients need lifetime annual follow up at one of 18 specialist centres in the country. The nearest centre for some patients may be several hours away from their home, meaning there can be significant financial costs, travel time and inconvenience.
A team from the University of Southampton has designed, implemented and evaluated a remote care pathway whereby patients have access to a personalised app, featuring a home hearing check, listening practice, stock ordering and other resources to allow them to care for their hearing at home rather than in a clinic.
The trial of this pathway resulted in a significant increase in patient empowerment, as well as improvements in hearing.
This Scaling Up Improvement project is supporting the roll out of the pathway in eight centres across UK. It is estimated that there may be several hundred patients enrolling for the service a year, which would result in significant cost savings.
Patients are able to monitor their hearing at home and manage the majority of their care needs through the app. Shared decision-making about when the tools are appropriate and beneficial is being promoted, recognising that remote care will not suit all patients.
The app has now been CE-marked as a Class 1 medical device and has been tested with 60 people, with their feedback informing improvements. The initiative began roll out with patients at the adopting clinics in March 2019. Data collection will continue until January 2021.