Barts Health and UCLPartners have implemented the Hear Me Now app (developed by Maldaba) to improve quality of care for people with cognitive impairment, specifically adults with a learning disability.
The Hear Me Now app records patient information in word, photo, audio, or video format, which is then stored in easy-to-organise “boxes”.
Details can then be readily shared with healthcare staff and carers, either in person or by using an internet-based sharing platform, also supplied with the app.
The app aims to better and more quickly understand an individual’s needs, saving time in appointments as a result.
It also aims to empower patients, improve contact and communication between patients and clinical staff and create more joined care across clinical services as well as better management of transition between services i.e. from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to adult services.
There are currently 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing another layer of healthcare challenges.
A pilot of the Hear Me Now app was conducted at the Royal London Hospital, and people with learning disabilities were involved in the project team to create the project literature.
Nearly 40 outpatients living with learning disabilities were supported with the Hear Me Now app at the Royal London Hospital between May 2019 and January 2021.
After using the app for 12 months participants were followed up and 30 provided feedback.
The majority (26/30) found the app helpful and easy to use and nearly two thirds agreed it helped communication at healthcare appointments.
Academic Clinical Fellow in Special Care Dentistry at Barts Health, Dr Richard Fitzgerald, said: “It was quite clear through the interviews with participants and their families that the Hear Me Now app was well-liked and effective.
“One of the most interesting findings for me were that family members reported a feeling of reassurance that all medical information was in one place if it was needed for emergencies.
“Alongside this it was interesting to see that the self-reported use of the app was high, suggesting that worries about digital literacy in this population may be unfounded.”