Virtual clinic to benefit LUTS sufferers

The world’s first virtual assessment clinic in the field of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) has been launched.

ELAROS 24/7 is an innovative new way of carrying out initial assessment as well as the long term management and monitoring of patients with LUTS.

LUTS refers to a range of urinary problems that can significantly impair the quality of life for sufferers. Effective treatment requires clinical evidence on frequency of urine volumes passed and urgency, which is typically recorded using paper diaries.

Use of such diaries is infrequent outside specialist services due to limited experience in primary care and the difficulty of interpreting the raw, variable data.

A potential solution to these problems has been developed by ELAROS 24/7 Ltd (Electronic LUTS And Remote Observation Service). The system, ELAROS 24/7, was launched at a special event at the University of Sheffield’s conferencing facility, The Edge, which was attended by more than 100 clinicians, business people and key stakeholders.

ELAROS 24/7 Ltd is a partnership between Devices for Dignity (D4D)/Sheffield Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust, MDTi Healthcare Ltd, Medipex (NHS Innovation Hub for Yorkshire and Humber) and RTC North, with funding awarded through the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC).

The ELAROS system consists of three parts – the UroDiary (to collect data), the UFlow meter (to measure flow rates) and the UroConnect (to manage and analyse data).

Informed by NICE guidelines on the identification and management of LUTS, ELAROS 24/7 is used by the patient to record times, volumes passed, and the desire to urinate. Once recoded, data is downloaded to the GP’s computer system for data visualisation, interpretation and patient management.

The UroDiary®, a portable electronic diary, is more discrete than writing in a diary, and makes data easily traceable and transferable between healthcare providers. Simple data capture, analysis and quicker diagnosis will potentially save the NHS £66M per year* through reduction in referrals to secondary care and diagnostic costs.

Professor Chris Chapple, D4D’s Urinary Continence Management Theme Lead, said at the launch event: “A bladder diary is an essential tool for clinicians assessing lower urinary tract symptoms – but a paper diary is not practical and often not reliable.

“ELAROS 24/7 gives the clinician a huge amount of information and allows us to effectively and accurately evaluate and treat people.”

It is also predicted that the ELAROS service will make significant savings on pharmacology budgets of at least 10% on the drugs being used in this area of health, with a pilot being run in February 2013 to test these assumptions.

Professor Paul O’Brien, Chief Executive of ELAROS 24/7 Ltd, said: “ELAROS 24/7 reduces the need for patients to make unnecessary journeys to their GP and also cuts down on inappropriate referrals – therefore benefiting both GP and patient, as well as reducing costs for the NHS.”