NICE has developed a medtech innovation briefing (MIB) on VitalPAC for assessing vital signs of patients in hospital.

The technology described in this briefing is the VitalPAC mobile clinical software system. It analyses manually entered, or samples automatically captured, patient vital sign data to identify deterioration in a patient’s health. The software operates on the Apple iPod touch, iPad and iPhone and is designed to integrate with hospital clinical systems.

The innovative aspects are that VitalPAC has the potential to automatically calculate a patient’s early warning score (EWS), and to prompt clinicians to respond in line with hospital protocol.

The intended place in therapy would be in place of paper records and manual calculations of observations for people who are acutely ill in hospital.

The key points from the evidence summarised in this briefing are from 1 classroom exercise (involving 21 nurses), 1 feasibility study and 2 before-and-after studies involving 112,218 adults. These suggest that the VitalPAC system reduces errors and that introducing it in hospital is associated with improved outcomes.

Key uncertainties around the evidence are that the clinical study findings may have been influenced by their uncontrolled study designs in which other factors, such as parallel quality improvement initiatives, may have contributed to the observed differences in outcomes.

The annual licence cost for the core VitalPAC product is 70p per bed per day (excluding VAT), or 50p per bed per day for a more basic version. An Apple Enterprise Licence at a cost of around £225 per year must also be purchased. The price includes deployment, training and ongoing support. The devices on which VitalPAC runs must be purchased separately.

MIBs provide a description of the medical technology, including its likely place in therapy, the costs of using the technology and a critical review of the strengths and weaknesses of the relevant published evidence.

Their purpose is to provide objective information on device and diagnostic technologies to aid local decision-making by clinicians, managers and procurement professionals. By making this information available, NICE helps to avoid the need for NHS organisations to produce similar information for local use.

MIBs are not NICE guidance. They differ in format, contain no judgement on the value of the technology and do not constitute a guidance recommendation.

MIBs are commissioned by NHS England and produced in support of the NHS 5 Year Forward View, specifically as one of a number of steps which will accelerate innovation in new treatments and diagnostics.