New app connects multiple sclerosis patients with trusted advice

Photo: Agne (doctor) and Valerie (patient)

Published: 26 October 2020

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust has launched a new digital self-management app for local people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

The app, one of the first NHS MS apps in the country with local content, connects health and care professionals from Torbay Hospital’s MS service with patients, allowing remote sharing of trusted advice based on a mutual understanding and experience of the condition.

The app helps support both newly and longer term diagnosed users by providing regularly updated expert advice, information and education (in written, podcast and video form) from the Trust’s MS team:

  • Underlying disease
  • Medications
  • Safe processes including blood test monitoring, vaccinations, what to do if an infection occurs
  • Help with fatigue, pain, sleep, etc.
  • Guided meditation, wellbeing and mindfulness
  • Contact details for the Torbay Hospital MS Team, clinics and treatments

With more patients being supported to self-manage, use of the app at home will free up the MS service to see more new patients without increased resources needed or delay in follow-up appointments.

The MS Connect app is welcomed by patients and professionals, especially at a time when the need for remote access to advice and other support has been highlighted by reduced face-to-face consultations during the pandemic.

Dr Agne Straukiene, Consultant Neurologist at the Trust, developed the app with the Trust’s partner *Health and Care Innovations: “The MS App ensures all information patients need is available all in one place and that help from specialist doctors and nurses is at their fingertips and simple to find on their laptops, smart phones or tablets.

“We have already had very encouraging feedback from clinicians and patients. I’m confident it is the right time to widen the use of the app, especially now when patients are more confident about remote access to health care.

“I’m sure the app will improve the quality of life for multiple sclerosis patients by helping them manage their condition and medication and organise their own consultations.”

MS patient Valerie Bailey, was diagnosed in 2018. She said: “If this MS Connect app had been available then, I would have been able to look up everything I needed knowing it had come from ‘my’ MS Team at Torbay Hospital, including advice on a much more holistic lifestyle.

“This is an amazing resource during the pandemic – a lifeline to reach the team since most of us are shielding because of our treatments.

“The MS Team promises to do the best they can through this app – that they are on our side, at one of the hardest times of our lives having been told we have this disease.”

Valerie said that an important feature of the app are Dr Straukiene pod-casts encouraging self-monitoring by MS patients before attending six-monthly appointments.

Dr Straukiene, added: “It is essential to give patients the right tools to manage their condition with trusted information on their disease and medication which is easily accessible in one place and easily updated.

“The app has the advantage over the internet which patients find difficult to trust. Trust is most relevant at the onset of disease when treatment is intensive and complicated. Patients will be unwell, in pain and vulnerable, with no background knowledge of their condition.”

She said the app would meet the needs of more patients requiring regular follow-ups and monitoring due to recent improvements in treatments.

Also, the app will support patients increasingly undergoing more complex treatments who required monitoring for safety reasons and neurologists taking on more responsibility for prescribing will used it to manage patients’ medication.

*Health and Care Innovations (a partnership between the Trust and Rocklands Media), developed the app with Trust staff. HCI design and implement digital solutions that transform pathways of care, including the UK’s largest collection of health and care videos

Links to MS Connect app

Apple Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/connect-plus/id1497704644

Android store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=digital.hci.connect&hl=en_GB

Also on Health and Care Innovations


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