Dr Esther Hobson
- Devices for Dignity
National Institute for Health Research
Motor Neurone Disease Association
The TiM telehealth system is an Android app on a smart tablet computer that allows motor neurone disease (MND) patients and carers to self-manage their condition.
This project is a randomised controlled mixed methods pilot study of telehealth in motor neurone disease.
The TiM system was developed in collaboration with clinicians at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and industry partner Mylan. Support has also been received from patients and carers, Devices for Dignity, the Centre for Assistive Technologies and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) and the University of Sheffield Telehealth and Care Technologies group.
How does the TiM system work?
The system is an Android app on a tablet computer. Patients and their carers self-manage their condition by answering questions about their condition on a weekly basis. Their answers are automatically analysed and are available to their MND team. The team are automatically alerted to a change in their condition. The tablet computer also provides education and feedback.
About the project
In order to understand how the TiM system could work a randomised controlled pilot study is being conducted. It involves 40 patients who are cared for by the Sheffield Motor Neurone Disease care centre and their main informal carer. Half of the participants use the telehealth system for a minimum of six months and maximum of eighteen months and information is collected from patients, carers and their care team. This includes collecting clinical outcome measures, health resource use and the opinions and experience of using the system. All participants continue to receive their usual care.
Dr Chris McDermott, consultant neurologist at the Sheffield MND Care Centre conceived the idea and developed the system: “We hope that the TiM system will improve the care and support we can offer patients and their carers by enabling us to respond to problems as they arise.”
Emily Goodall, a member of the Sheffield Motor Neurone Disorders Research Advisory Group, who represent patients and their families suffering from MND said: “This app has the potential to make a huge difference to patients with MND, particularly those living in rural areas where travelling to hospital is very difficult and you can feel very isolated.”
Darren Zimmerman, Commercial Portfolio Director at Mylan said “The team at the University of Sheffield have been absolutely fantastic. The current project we’ve been collaborating on has been a great way to learn from both sides, and we hope to continue to make great progress working toward additional solutions for patients”.
MND is a rare but debilitating neurological condition that causes paralysis of the body’s muscles leading to severe disability and eventually death. Patients often struggle to travel the long distances to specialist clinics to receive the care they require whilst this expert care is often unavailable in the community.