People with Parkinson’s could see their care transformed thanks to a new service involving wearable technology.
The project, entitled Developing Home-based Parkinson's Care and led by the University of Plymouth and University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHPNT), will see patients use a wrist-worn device known as a Personal Kinetigraph (PKG®) as part of a new scheme to help them and a specialist team monitor their condition at home.
Developed by the Global Kinetics Corporation, the PKG monitors movement symptoms of Parkinson’s and processes them through a proprietary algorithm. Supplemented by a questionnaire that asks patients to detail non-motor symptoms such as changes in mood, patients will wear the PKG for six-day stints, enabling them and their care team to identify and implement any required changes to therapy.
The specialist Parkinson’s team can then work remotely, ensuring that help – including calls or clinic appointments – can be offered when it is needed.
Current guidelines suggest that people with Parkinson’s should receive specialist review at least every six months, whatever the stage of their condition, usually provided by a consultant and community Parkinson’s disease nurse specialist (PDNS). But a recent audit of patient experience, conducted by the project team, found that 46% have consultant appointments delayed by more than six months, and 60% have not seen the community nurse within the last year. Some regions of the UK don’t have the specialist service, and 50% of vacant PDNS posts are due to long-term sick leave or resignation.
A key part of the project is the design of a new service, which will bring together people with Parkinson’s, their families and healthcare teams in co-design workshops. This will ensure that care delivery really meets the needs and expectations of people living with Parkinson’s.
The service will also deliver an education package, letting people know how to ensure the service works best for them, as well as providing people with the knowledge they need to manage their Parkinson’s symptoms better themselves and ‘live well’ with Parkinson’s.
The project has received £75,000 funding from The Health Foundation and £15,500 from a Parkinson’s UK Excellence Network Service Improvement Grant, and will initially be delivered to 150 patients in Plymouth city, West Devon and East Cornwall, as a pilot. If successful, the team hopes the system could be rolled out across the UK.
Another key element, and a priority for The Health Foundation, is that the service will also work better for healthcare staff; removing some of the frustrations and isolation of working in the current system, and resulting in enhanced wellbeing.
Project lead Dr Camille Carroll, Associate Professor in the University of Plymouth’s Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine (ITSMed) and Consultant Neurologist at UHPNT, said: