Rapid Evaluation of Croydon Virtual Ward Model

The Health Innovation Network (HIN) Insights team undertook a rapid evaluation into a virtual ward model that was used to treat patients at home, in order to reduce pressures on services that had arisen due to Covid-19.

Report Summary

The rapid evaluation found that a virtual ward model used in Croydon was able to:

  • appropriately deliver care in patients’ homes for 65 per cent of virtual ward patients (all of which were acutely unwell).
  • manage a cohort of up to 30 patients at one time using only a small team of clinicians.
  • deliver a service that patients were largely satisfied with.

Download the full evaluation report below.

Background and Context

In July 2020 the Community Services arm of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust implemented at pace a virtual ward model to treat patients who were acutely unwell at home to reduce the pressures on the acute arm of the trust that had arisen due to Covid-19. Following implementation, the HIN’s Insight Team was funded by the NHSX National Innovation Collaborative to conduct a rapid evaluation into the Croydon virtual ward to understand the impact it had on patients and lessons learnt from the implementation.

This evaluation explores the following questions:

  1. Who were the patients being admitted to the virtual ward?
  2. What factors were essential to make the model effective?
  3. Did patients find using the technology acceptable?
  4. What was the patient experience of the service?
  5. How did the service impact on healthcare utilisation?
  6. Did the service deliver any cost savings?
  7. What were the patient outcomes?

In order to answer these a mixed methods approach was used. This looked at a range of pre-existing quantitative data provided by Croydon Health Services and Current Health (the provider of the remote monitoring technology for Croydon’s virtual ward) based on a cohort of 250 patients that had been admitted to the virtual ward. Alongside this were three qualitative interviews with patients, and a staff survey that was completed by three members of staff involved in the virtual ward. Where appropriate data from virtual ward patients was also compared to a control group of 33 patients that received care from Croydon’s Rapid Response team prior to the virtual ward being implemented. These patients would otherwise have been appropriate for admission to the virtual ward.

Whilst there were key findings found (see Report Summary section above), more data would need to be obtained on a larger control group and including Covid-19 and long-term conditions patients to truly understand whether the differences in outcomes and utilisation are significant.

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