Remote Parkinson’s monitoring tech backed by NICE

PKG device

In its second guidance on digital health technologies within a week, NICE has endorsed five remote monitoring devices for patients with Parkinson’s disease that can be used to identify people who could benefit from changes to their care.

The five wearable devices – Great Lakes NeuroTechnologies’ Kinesia 360 and KinesiaU, PD Neurotechnology’s PDMonitor, PKG Health’s Personal KinetiGraph (PKG) and Sense4Care’s STAT-ON – all take the form of sensors designed to harvest movement data such as gait, involuntary movements, and posture.

The latest guidance from the UK health technology assessment (HTA) organisation updates provisional backing for the devices published in 2022, and notes that they can be used by the NHS while further evidence of their benefits is generated.

It stresses, however, that commissioners should carefully consider whether to buy the technology outright, or opt for a pay-per-use or subscription model, in case further data suggests they are not cost-effective and backing is rescinded.

The hope is that the devices will help doctors make more effective medication choices for the 120,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK, as well as identify patients who may benefit from ancillary treatments like physiotherapy.

NICE’s appraisal committee noted that the devices may be more accurate at making a clinical assessment of a patient’s symptoms and disease progression compared to intermittent, in-person appointments at the clinic.

“Sometimes people with Parkinson’s disease may struggle to accurately assess their symptoms, and how severe they think they are may differ from the view of their carer,” says the guidance. “More objective monitoring of symptoms is therefore an unmet need.”

Currently, the PKG device – a watch-like tool used to quantify symptoms such as tremors, involuntary movements, and slowness, as well as monitor movement activity during sleep – has the most evidence to back it up, according to the guidance. However, it says its effectiveness when used in an NHS setting remains uncertain as the main clinical trial of the technology did not reflect NHS care.

The wearable was used in an NHS pilot scheme in 2022, in which it was worn around the clock for six days to monitor patients’ movements at home. Along with relaying information to doctors that can be used to manage care, it also buzzes to remind patients to take medication.

On average, two people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s in England every single hour per day. Patient organisation Parkinson’s UK estimates that with population growth and ageing, the number of diagnoses could increase by 25% by the end of the decade.

Earlier this week, NICE also issued guidance endorsing the use of two artificial intelligence tools to help detect stroke from CT brain scans.