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First large-scale pilot to reduce stroke health inequalities announced in five NHS trusts

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My Stroke Companion, the first personalised educational package for stroke patients, launched in December last year, which kickstarted a year-long trial.

This project aims to reduce health inequalities, by means of connecting people with personalised health information with an eye to help them manage their condition in a way that suits them.

The project was first launched at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and will be extended to a further four trusts later this year.

My Stroke Companion was co-created and piloted by UCLH and patient information specialists, Cognitant. It is the first time that visual and interactive content has been individualised to patient’s type of stroke, their medication, symptoms and local support services available to them, thus increasing the personalisation of care to reduce health inequalities for stroke patients.

The large-scale trial which involves 500 patients is the first of its kind to take place, follows a smaller-scale pilot of the personalised digital support package by the UCLH hyperacute stroke unit. Both pilots are being funded by the government’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), with more than £500,000 being awarded to fund the project.

Dr Robert Simister, clinical lead for the My Stroke Companion project at UCLH, says: “We wanted to work with Cognitant to develop My Stroke Companion because currently, there is a real lack of personalised support that is offered to stroke survivors, and we feel that the project is capable of bridging this gap.”

As part of the trial each patient will be issued a personalised information prescription, which they can share with family members and carers, helping them to manage their condition, Explainer videos and visual content help users to fully understand and memorise information about their condition.

Links to further support organisations and contact details of medical teams are also provided if the patient seeks further help on lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking.

Accessible content is of vital importance in stroke, as patients may struggle to take in information due to tiredness of fatigue, or difficulties processing information from the effects of the stroke. This is even more difficult for patients who also experience language barriers or have pre-existing communication needs.

My Stroke Companion promises to offer personalised support for every stroke survivor and their family to help them navigate barriers that arise as a result of life with stroke. This includes understanding the type of stroke that has occurred, why it happened and how to prevent a further attack, as well as understanding the treatments that are planned, updates on treatment developments and the recommended lifestyle changes to optimise recovery.

Dr Simister, says: “The information, which will be shared both with stroke survivors and their carers will always be accurate, appropriate and well-presented, unlike information searches on the internet, which can often be inaccurate and unsafe.”

This new pilot aims to trial My Stroke Companion with patients and their families in a variety of different communities, including rural areas. 300 patients will come from UCLH with a further 200 from four other NHS trusts, including North Bristol NHS Trust.

My Stroke Companion was developed using trusted and high-quality information from The Stroke Association, Headway and Different Strokes. Patients can learn about their condition from these trusted sources at their preferred setting, speed and language, including, Urdu, Punjabi, Polish and Nepalese, which are the most widely spoken languages in the UK after English.

Daisy Allington, COO of Cognitant, says: “We’re very excited about My Stroke Companion, not just because of the huge benefits for stroke patients, but because this trial will enable us to develop personalised services to aid patients with other long-term conditions and their families.”

After the conclusion of the trial, Cognitant and UCLH hope to evolve My Stroke Companion to dynamically update with the patient journey. For example, to provide new information as the patient changes medication.

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