This innovative home-use sputum test gives patients with long-term respiratory disease early warning of chest infections, so that they can be treated effectively at home, reducing unplanned hospital admissions. The technology has the potential to save the NHS in excess of £50 million a year.
“These tools will allow me and my family, who are my carers, to communicate my health declines to the clinician so that we can get support and medication for a chest infection sooner.”
Patient at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
What was the problem?
People with long-term respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis and asthma are susceptible to chest infections, with each episode adding more damage to their lungs. By the time a patient realises they have a chest infection, it’s often serious enough to need prolonged treatment in hospital. The NHS spends around £4.7 billion annually on treating lung disease. Hospital admissions are also very disruptive for patients, particularly older patients who can lose independence during a hospital stay.
What we did and why
Aseptika’s Activ8rlives self-care system and home-use sputum test gives patients with long-term respiratory disease early warning of chest infections, so that they can be treated effectively at home and reduce unplanned hospital admissions. The technology has the potential to save the NHS in excess of £50 million a year.
Early advice from Eastern Academic Health Science Network (EAHSN) led to Aseptika securing SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative for Healthcare) funding to extend its Activ8rlives self-care system, which tracks and analyses blood oxygen, heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, body mass and lung function. SBRI funding is managed by the AHSNs, and is used to help innovative UK technologies and solutions to scale.
Aseptika have been involved in several clinical trials, and EAHSN has supported the team to successfully navigate the system. Patients on a clinical trial recorded their own results using a bespoke iPad app. All of the data feeds into the individual’s account on the Activ8rlives website, to give the patient along with those involved in their care an accurate picture of whether they could be sliding towards a chest infection (known in clinical terms as an exacerbation).
A second aspect involved developing a new biomarker test for patients with COPD and bronchiectasis, to give early warning of an exacerbation. Identifying and managing these at an early stage greatly increases the chances that the patient can be safely treated at home.
The test detects the level of lung bacteria in a sample of sputum, and is simple enough for patients to use at home every day. If bacteria levels are raised, the patient can start taking their ‘standby’ antibiotics straight away. Subsequent daily tests then show when treatment can be stopped, or whether the patient needs to change medications.
Spring 2016 marked the start of the first use of the Activ8rlives package within the NHS. A multidisciplinary respiratory disease team in Liverpool are supporting 20 patients to monitor their condition at home, using the Activ8rlives tools. The team operates a 24-hour respiratory helpline, and during this trial, clinicians answering helpline calls will be able to view the patient’s Activ8rlives data for an objective view of their condition, which will help them to give appropriate advice.
Which national priorities does this work address?
- Supporting patients to manage long-term conditions more effectively
- Support to UK innovators
- Efficient use of acute hospital beds
- The test reliably predicts exacerbations 7 – 21 days before the patient would typically seek help.
- Patients find the self-monitoring tools and Activ8rlives website easy to use: this has led to adherence rates of over 90% (and up to 99% in some trials).
- Participants have described how self-monitoring has given them greater insight into their health and helped them to make positive changes in their lives. One individual with bronchiectasis achieved a 20% improvement in lung function, and was no longer classed as being at high risk of hospitalisation.
- More than 80,000 people have signed up to monitor their health using the Activ8rlives website.
- Aseptika was involved in the EAHSN COPD test bed bid, and has been selected as an innovation partner for the Sheffield test bed site, where it will be integrating the self-monitoring package into new respiratory disease care pathways.
“Working with the NHS in Liverpool and Sheffield will allow us to demonstrate the impact that technology can have on hospitalisation rates for patients with long-term respiratory conditions, through empowering patients to take control of their own health and giving clinicians access to reliable monitoring data.”
Kevin Auton, Managing Director at Aseptika
Tips for implementation
- All innovations are developed in conjunction with both patients and clinical staff. Patients find the Activ8rlives self-monitoring tools, apps and the website easy to use and this has led to adherence rates of over 90% and up to 99% in some of the clinical trials.
- Develop solutions which address needs from both the consumer and their healthcare service providers’ perspectives, and ensure that both groups understand how to use these and the benefits they bring.
Next steps and spread
Aseptika’s partnership with NHS trusts in Liverpool and Sheffield will feed into the process of building evidence for approval and adoption more widely within the NHS. They are also developing the BuddyWOTCH – a smartwatch for consumers which will also be a recognised medical device certified for home use.
Aseptika received an SBRI grant to support the development of the device, which will provide continuous data collection to help people with respiratory disease and other long-term health conditions to better manage their condition at home.
Find out more
Visit the Eastern AHSN website.
Contact for help and advice
Kevin Auton, Managing Director
Jessica Auton, Marketing Director
Programme duration: 2012 – 2016