Senior sitting alone in his living room and using mobile phone, credit: Rido, courtesy of Shutterstock
Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurodegenerative condition in the world. According to Parkinson’s UK there are currently 145,000 people in the UK living with Parkinson’s and every hour two people receive a diagnosis. With population growth and ageing, Parkinson’s UK estimate it will increase by nearly a fifth to 172,000 by 2030.
Parkinson’s not only affects those with the condition but also has a profound impact on carers, family and friends. Therefore, finding ways to provide more efficient, effective and scalable support is essential in its ongoing management.
The NHS hopes that digital tools, particularly wearable technologies, will support patient self-management and care at home and result in more timely treatment. It will also make the healthcare pathway more manageable and reduce pressure on the NHS. In order to accomplish this the NHS are giving our existing home-based care pathway project a cash injection of half a million pounds. 
The project is being run by the University of Plymouth and University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust. Principal lead is Dr Camille Carroll, an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at University Hospitals Plymouth and an Associate Professor in Neurology at the University of Plymouth. Co-lead on the project is Dr Edward Meinert from the Centre of Health Technology.
Launched in 2019, this unique Home Based Care pathway was co-designed by people with Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s clinicians and nurse specialists. It provides a novel innovative care solution combining at-home monitoring with the ability for patients to ask for healthcare practitioner input and support when they need it. To provide an objective measure of their Parkinson’s movement symptoms at home, patients wear a wrist-worn device called a Parkinson’s Kinetigraph (PKG), which is worn for six days. The information it collects is relayed to the Parkinson’s team who can look for signs that their medicines need changing or that other interventions might be needed. The device also buzzes to remind people to take medication, which they can confirm with a swipe. People on the pathway receive information about Parkinson’s, symptom tracking cards, a Parkinson’s passport to explain to others what is important about their Parkinson’s, and a phone number and email to contact directly for support.
People on the pathway are required to fill out ‘pen and paper’ questionnaires to capture non-motor aspects of Parkinson’s, such as mood disturbances, bladder and bowel symptoms or difficulties with thinking and memory, for which therapy changes might also be needed. This relies on the postal system and the manual input of results.
Now the NHS funding boost is set to digitally integrate the various elements of the pathway into the patient’s electronic records, working with partners at Livewell Southwest, TPP and Patients Know Best. The new system will allow a patient to complete their questionnaires electronically via an app, with their information being seamlessly uploaded to their digital record, ensuring the data is available to all involved in their care, allowing patients and clinicians to make better informed decisions.
Hundreds of patients are benefitting from the pathway in the Plymouth scheme, which has ambitions to be rolled out across the country for the 145,000 people who have Parkinson’s in the UK
Funding comes from the Digital Health Partnership Award which supports collaboration with patient groups in order to develop new technology-based approaches to patient care.