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Header image for the current page Navigating the big smoke – helping patients avoid poor air quality

Navigating the big smoke – helping patients avoid poor air quality

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Managing patients at home has become essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, with remote monitoring systems connecting patients with clinicians like never before. Jane Van Aken, Director of Product Development at Spirit Digital explains how adding air quality data to existing platforms for managing long-term conditions can help patients make informed decisions about their outdoor activities.

In this pilot project led by Earth Sense, the Satellite Applications Catapult, NHS Arden & GEM CSU and Spirit Digital, 1,200 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary (COPD) patients were given the opportunity to access air quality data for their local area which resulted in high levels of service satisfaction and improved confidence in condition management.

Keeping patients in contact and out of A&E

CliniTouch Vie is an interactive platform – developed by Spirit Digital – to help patients with long-term conditions manage their condition at home, while being supported by their clinical team. Clinicians have access to a combination of vital signs and qualitative data, allowing them to spot trends, monitor signs of deterioration and intervene whenever necessary. These interventions could be a video chat, a supportive message, or the allocation of an educational resource, depending on the patient’s need.

CliniTouch Vie has helped to improve quality of life for patients by reassuring them that their health is being monitored by a clinician and appropriate interventions are being managed. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, CliniTouch Vie had been shown to reduce A&E admissions by 67%.

Piloting the use of air quality data

Following receipt of a grant award from the European Space Agency (ESA), a partnership between Earth Sense, the Satellite Applications Catapult, NHS Arden & GEM CSU and Spirit Digital initiated a pilot project to integrate MappAir® Quality forecasting data into the CliniTouch Vie platform for use by 1,200 COPD patients.

Supporting daily routines and decision making

The project has given patients access to air quality data for their local area, with updates supplied hourly from EarthSense. Working with a designer focused on the needs of the user, new features were defined and implemented to help patients understand the data and derive value specific to their condition. For example, the ability for patients to see their health trend at a glance and displaying educational resources alongside air quality data.

Access to this information is helping patients to make informed decisions about their outdoor activity, based around the quality of their local environment over the next three days, with 36% of patients in the pilot reporting taking action – such as choosing a different route for a walk – after viewing the information.

Following the pilot, patient and clinician questionnaires showed that:

You can find out more about the project here.

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Author: Jane Van Aken | Linked in URL


Having studied in Glasgow, Jane is a Registered Nurse in both the UK and USA and has been practicing in both countries for 30 years, developing an in-depth understanding of how to deliver excellent patient care. Jane combines her clinical expertise with a passion for healthcare and technology, designing and implementing innovative models of care across the system. After spells in market development and as a consultant, Jane is now Director of Product Development team at Spirit Digital, part of the rapidly growing ‘Sunday Times Fast Track 100’ company Spirit Health Group.