12 April 2022 London – Project Nightingale, a study led by the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (part of Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust) has announced an innovative new joint partnership with social purpose company, Ampersand Health. Project Nightingale has yielded promising results from an ongoing study of over 350 patients with a painful, chronic type of arthritis that mainly affects the joints of the spine called Axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA).
AxSpA impacts over 220,000 adults in the UK, and the Project Nightingale study has been designed to empower people with axSpA to use a smartphone app to track their symptoms and gain a better understanding of their condition.
Those with axSpA may have periods where symptoms become worse, known as flare-ups or flares, that can be difficult to predict.
Since its launch in May 2018, the Project Nightingale study has identified significant relationships between a variety of patient-reported symptoms and flare, including links that have not yet been explored in patients with axSpA.
In particular, findings from Project Nightingale suggest that there may be two groups of patients with axSpA who experience flare differently. Researchers identified one part of the study group that appeared to have flare-ups that last longer than another group. However, these patients with longer flare also experienced less dramatic worsening of pain, fatigue, sleep, mood and stress during their flare. Clinical measures were similar between groups, suggesting that Project Nightingale may be capturing subtle changes in disease experience not currently considered in clinical practice.
My Arthritis App
Pivotal to Project Nightingale is the migration to Ampersand Health’s app My Arthritis, which is providing engaging and interactive courses, led by experts who understand what life with the condition is really like, as well as allowing patients to record their symptoms and feelings on a daily basis, so patients can work with their healthcare professionals to help manage and understand flare triggers.
The new joint partnership between the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases and Ampersand Health enables this study to continue to help researchers and clinicians better understand axSpA and support patients remotely, through the use of My Arthritis with increased user functionality and resources.
Peter Stanley, 68, joined the study to help him understand his symptoms of axSpA: “I wasn’t very good with technology at the beginning of the study, but it was surprisingly easy to do on my smartphone.
“Participating in Project Nightingale has helped me understand some of my most problematic symptoms as well as act as a useful record for when seeing my rheumatologist.”
“My main problem with axSpA is the impact the condition has on my sleep based on my stress levels. Since the study started, I’ve been able to see a link and look at ways to reduce my stress to help with my symptoms.”
Dr Raj Sengupta, Lead of Project Nightingale and Consultant Rheumatologist and Lead for Axial Spondyloarthritis at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD), RUH Bath NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Project Nightingale is an important tool that will help us understand more about axSpA and what it’s like to live with the condition from a patient perspective. We hope that through close collaboration with our patients, we can investigate and improve the management of the condition and explore ways in which we could potentially embed such a service into routine care to better support patients and healthcare professionals.”
Nader Alaghband, Founder & CEO of Ampersand Health added: “We are delighted that we are able to partner with the RNHRD and put My Arthritis in the hands of patients. As the NHS shifts to more virtual models of care, we’re looking forward to supporting the Hospital in important areas enhancing patient care and supporting better mental health and quality of life for people with long term conditions such as axSpA.”
The news of Project Nightingale comes after another recent partnership between Ampersand Health and Our Dorset Digital and Rheumatology Dorset to roll out the My Arthritis app. It is now part of routine patient care, aiming to improve communication and self-care for patients and their clinicians.
The company has also recently cemented four partnerships with NHS organisations across England to implement a new approach to managing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients, using technology from its My IBD Care app.
The pilots are funded by the NHSX Adoption Fund, a programme launched to support 35 digital health projects across England with a share of £6.5 million, created in response to the pressures, backlogs and waiting lists created by the COVID-19 pandemic.