Digital technology linking care homes to clinical advice hubs reduces A&E attendances

Berlin, Germany: The use of digital technology in residential care homes can reduce the number of emergency department attendances by 10% each month, according to new research presented at the European Emergency Medicine Congress today (Wednesday) [1].

Preliminary evidence from a study that modelled the effect of implementing the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) HealthCall digital technology across the North-East of England showed it had the potential to make a significant impact on attendances by residents of care homes in accident and emergency (A&E) departments.

Alex Garner, a PhD student in the Statistics and Epidemiology programme at Lancaster Medical School (Lancaster University, UK), working on the Health Data Research UK funded Learning Care Homes Project, told the congress that HealthCall Digital Care Homes was an app that could be used in care homes to provide staff with easy access to clinical advice.

“Care homes that are registered with HealthCall are provided with devices on which the staff can use the app. Staff are trained on taking observations of residents’ condition, such as body temperature and blood pressure, and uploading these observations to the app. They can also include text about a person’s condition. The observations are sent to a clinician at a central hub who has access to the resident's NHS healthcare record. The clinician can then provide advice for staff on next steps in the resident's care. The advice might be to keep monitoring the resident, or for a healthcare professional to visit, or to take them to an emergency department.”

Mr Garner and his colleagues collated data on 8,702 care home residents in 122 homes from County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and linked these with clinical data from HealthCall. Using this information, they created statistical models to predict how rates of A&E attendances changed over time. The models took account of fluctuations caused by the time of year and also the COVID-19 pandemic.

“HealthCall rolled out in care homes gradually throughout the study period of June 2018 to September 2021,” he said. “New homes joined each month, and we can identify when each home started to use the HealthCall system, incorporating this into our statistical models. We assessed whether usage of the app in a care home had a significant impact on expected numbers of A&E attendances. We tested for an immediate change and also for a gradual change over time in emergency attendances.

“Our preliminary models suggest a 10% reduction in the expected monthly emergency department attendances for residents in care homes using HealthCall technology compared to attendance rates before HealthCall was introduced. There is insufficient evidence so far to suggest that the use of HealthCall could result in an additional gradual decrease in emergency attendances for individual residents over time, but we are investigating this further.

“The technology also allows for ongoing monitoring of residents’ health as well as providing more convenient and timely access to clinical advice.”

The researchers continue to develop their modelling and investigate the impact of HealthCall technology on A&E attendances and admission, length of inpatient stays, number of community nurse visits, rates of A&E admissions compared to transfer back to the care homes, rates of A&E arrivals by ambulance, and whether any of these outcomes are affected by how much the care homes use the app. The technology is now being rolled out to a further 300 care homes in the north of England, including in North Cumbria, South Tees, Newcastle Gateshead and Rotherham.

“Our study shows that digital technology could bridge the gap between health care and social care in the UK, provide staff with ready access to clinical expertise and potentially improve the quality of life for care home residents,” said Mr Garner. “Different systems for care home in other countries may mean health care and social care interact in different ways, but the opportunities that technology provides to strengthen these links can be a useful tool for improving care for residents, especially when used to bring clinical expertise into day-to-day decision-making.”

Previous research has suggested that some emergency hospital admissions of care home residents in the UK may have been unnecessary, as well as being detrimental to residents’ well-being.

“Care homes look after some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Ensuring residents receive the correct level of care is of utmost importance. It is hoped that having quick access to this type of advice can lead to reductions in A&E attendances and hospital attendances through providing more targeted care in the home,” he said.

A strength of the study was the use of large amounts of data that are routinely collected within the NHS, including information from hospitals and other specialist medical settings, community care and HealthCall. The linked data were stored in the University of Durham Trusted Research Environment (TRE), which allows the researchers to access the sensitive data remotely while the data remain stored in a secure system.

Professor Youri Yordanov from the St Antoine Hospital emergency department (APHP Paris), France, is Chair of the EUSEM 2022 abstract committee and was not involved in the research. He said: “At a time when overcrowding in emergency departments is becoming a chronic issue, and with an ageing population due to increased life expectancy, initiatives such as this that help to reduce the number of attendances of elderly patients to A&E are welcome and much needed.”


[1] Abstract no: OA103, “Impact of digital technology in care homes on Emergency Department attendances” by Alex Garner, in the Well-being session, 08.30-10.05 hrs CEST, M1-2-3.


Patients waiting for urgent surgery in A&E feel calmer and experience less pain if given a music pillow

Berlin, Germany: Patients waiting in an emergency department for urgent surgery are less anxious, more relaxed and experience less pain if they are given a special music pillow to rest on, according to research presented at the European Emergency Medicine Congress today (Wednesday) [1].

Ms Lisa Antonsen, a nurse in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Odense University Hospital (Odense, Denmark), told the meeting that she found a statistically significant association between listening to music and patients’ reports of reduced pain and improved relaxation and well-being.

“When I first started in the emergency department, I noticed that patients waiting for acute surgery were often nervous and even anxious. They wanted to know how long it would be until their surgery and this was impossible to tell them due to the waiting list in the department and the need to prioritise urgent cases. So they experienced a lot of uncertainty. I wondered how we could support these patients. I knew that music has been shown to have positive effects on pain, relaxation and well-being in other healthcare settings, but it has never been tested before with patients waiting for acute surgery,” said Ms Antonsen, who carried out the research as part of her Master’s thesis.

She invited all patients waiting for urgent surgery in the emergency department to take part in the study, and she enrolled 14 men and 16 women aged between 18 and 93 years. The patients were waiting for surgery for health emergencies such as appendicitis, intestinal obstruction, abscess or inflammation of the gall bladder. She offered them a music pillow for 30 minutes during the waiting time. The pillow contained a speaker with an MP3 player plugged into it. The MP3 player had a MusiCure program of specially composed music.

Before and after using the music pillow, Ms Antonsen asked patients to rate their pain, relaxation and well-being on a visual scale ranging from 0 to 10. After listening to music, 15 patients were interviewed about the experience and their answers contributed to the qualitative part of the study.

“We found that while using the music pillow, the patients experienced a decrease in pain from an average score of 4.8 to 3.7. Their relaxation improved from an average of 4.6 to 7.6, and their feeling of general well-being increased from an average score of 4.3 to 6.6,” she said.

“The statistical results demonstrated a positive association between music and acute pre-operative patients’ self-reported pain, relaxation and general well-being. The patients described both physical and mental well-being while listening to the music. They felt relaxed and found themselves thinking about something other than the pain and the worries related to the surgery. Thus, the music session provided a break from the acute hospital environment.”

As an example, a 65-year-old woman told the researchers: “It made me relax and, for a moment, I did not think about being here at the hospital. I just came to think about being outside in nature listening to birdsong. For a moment, something else happened.”

Ms Antonsen told the congress about some of the notes she made during the qualitative part of the study. She described one woman in the emergency department in November 2020: “She was upset. Her face was tense, and you could tell that she had just cried. She said that it had been a tough day. During the music session, she lay calmly in bed with her eyes closed. When the music session ended, she said, ‘not already’. Then she smiled at me. She seemed to be more comfortable.”

However, the busy and constantly changing environment of an emergency department was a source of disruptions to the music listening.

“For music to successfully promote mental and physical well-being, patients should be undisturbed while listening to it. Therefore, attention needs to be paid to the current organisational structure of emergency departments in order to implement music interventions successfully,” said Ms Antonsen

As the study was observational and the patients were not randomised to have a music pillow or not, it cannot show that access to a music pillow causes the improvements in pain, relaxation and well-being, only that it is associated with it.

“A larger study needs to be conducted to determine if music itself has an effect on pain, relaxation and general well-being,” said Ms Antonsen. She said that the mixture of quantitative and qualitative research was a strength of the study, enabling the different methods to support each other and provide different insights.

The music pillow used in the Ms Antonsen’s pilot study continues to be used in her emergency department and she hopes to make it permanent.

Professor Youri Yordanov from the St Antoine Hospital emergency department (APHP Paris), France, is Chair of the EUSEM 2022 abstract committee and was not involved in the research. He said: “Emergency departments are stressful places for patients, who have often arrived in them unexpectedly due to suddenly deteriorating conditions or accidents. Initiatives such as this, that appear to contribute to a reduction in patients’ anxiety, and also the pain they are experiencing, are very welcome. Music helps people relax at the best of times. Now this study suggests it can do the same during stressful times too. We look forward to larger studies that may confirm the findings of this pilot study.”


[1] Abstract no: OA100, “Music in the acute pre-operative nursing care – a mixed-method pilot study” by Lisa Antonsen, in the Well-being session, 08.40-10.05 hrs CEST, M1-2-3.
[2] An option also exists for patients to plug their own mobile phone or other digital device into the speaker, but for this study only the specially composed music was played.


World restart a heart day competition

“All citizens of the world can save a life”.

With these words, the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) launched the first global initiative – World Restart a Heart (WRAH) – to increase public awareness and the rates of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for victims of cardiac arrest.

To support this initiative EUSEM is organising a video competition.




Call for Co-Chair of the Young Emergency Medicine Doctors section (YEMD)

The YEMD is a very important section within EUSEM. Young doctors are the future and therefore the opinion of YEMD and their projects have a lot of impact on the evolvement of the specialty.
Do you aspire to contribute to the development of EM in Europe and help to organize educational events, manage social media, and assist the chair with administrative tasks. Then this might be the position for you. For the eligibility criteria and the full list of responsibilities please have a look at the description. The position is for 2 years. In return you will receive a free Congress registration after successful completion of your term.

Please have a look at the eligibility criteria.

If you are interested, please submit your CV and a motivational letter according to the templates to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Motivation letter template
CV template

Your motivational letter will be presented to the voters on a members-only webpage. 

The application deadline is 25 September.  


EBEEM exam dates 2023 available

The exam diets for 2023 are set. Especially for Part B it's important to save registration date in your agenda, since the seats are limited. Registration should always go through your MyEUSEM account, so just login here: and look for the registration button.

Part A: Friday 10 March:

Registration opens 15 December 2022 till 31 January 2023

Part B: Fri-Sun 23-25 June

Registration opens 1 April till 23 April 2023

Part A: Friday 8 September

Registration opens 1 July till 26 July 2023

Part B: Fri-Sun 17-19 November 

Registration opens 1 September till 21 September 2023