Thousands of patients with Parkinson’s disease will receive “smart watches” that will remind them to take their medication and monitor their movements.
The Parkinson’s Kinetigraph, a gadget containing sensors, sends signals about patient activity to doctors and buzzes when they need to take prescribed medication, which they can confirm with a simple swipe.
NHS England said the watch will help practitioners detect excessive movement, immobility and sleep disturbances, enabling them to adjust physiotherapy and medication prescriptions.
Hundreds of patients have already received the device in a pilot project, and it is set to be rolled out to the 120,000 people with Parkinson’s in England.
John Whipps, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007 and took part in the pilot project, said the watch gave him confidence to manage his condition.
He said: “The problem is that Parkinson’s disease changes from day to day, and even throughout the day.
“In the traditional system, you have to remember all your concerns and symptoms between visits, make sure you can attend the appointment, have the stress of getting to the hospital on time, and then don’t forget. don’t tell your consultant how you’re doing.”
Speaking about his experience with the watch, Mr Whipps added: “It really gives you confidence because you know it’s giving accurate records, and you don’t have to rely so much on your own perception.
“As non-motor symptoms begin to be recorded digitally, they will also help doctors track them and inform the healthcare team.”
NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said the watch will improve patients’ quality of life while improving the efficiency of the NHS.
She said: “Parkinson’s disease is an incurable disease that has a significant impact on people’s lives and this little watch will dramatically improve their quality of life – providing a thorough examination of their health and ensuring that they get the care they need in the comfort of their own homes.
“Not only is it better for those people living with Parkinson’s, it’s also more efficient for the NHS – freeing up space and time in hospitals for our hard-working staff.”
This digital approach to treating patients with Parkinson’s disease from home was developed by NHS Plymouth and the University of Plymouth.
The watches have been described by Dr Camille Carroll, a neurology expert who led the pilot project, as “life-changing” and by Health Secretary Sajid Javid as a “fantastic example of how technology is boosting life.” ‘cutting edge innovation in healthcare’.
Patients with Parkinson’s disease are still required to complete questionnaires for their doctors, for example to explain possible causes of nighttime disturbances that cannot be explained by the watch.