The Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust has launched an innovative new self-testing service to help monitor patients with heart failure and lung disease.
The service allows patients to check their vital signs at home and is designed to reduce preventable hospital admissions.
It will also free up hospital beds and surgery time, improve quality of life for patients and cut travel costs across large rural areas.
Rhona Macpherson, trust lead for the service:
Clinicians can monitor trends and intervene if readings move outside expected parameters.
This allows for timely intervention and also assists patients in recognising changing symptoms and promotes self-management.”
The trust serves a population of more than 880,000 people in Norfolk, making it one of the largest providers of community health and care services in the NHS.
The self-testing service is being used by heart failure nurses, community matrons and case managers in Norwich, South Norfolk and North Norfolk.
Up to 240 patients could use the service in the first year and will allow some to be discharged from hospital sooner.
Those referred have recently experienced heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and need to be monitored to ensure their vital signs are within acceptable range.
At present, the heart failure team attends to patients in clinic, at home and via telephone consultation.
Under the new system, patients are given a medical device and training to monitor their vital signs at home.
These include blood pressure, temperature, weight, pulse rate and oxygen saturation.
The information is then transmitted safely and securely to their clinician, who uploads the data onto their patient record.
Patients have the choice of using online submission forms or automated telephone service, depending on how confident they feel using technology.
Clinicians choose which readings need to be gathered from each patient and how often.
If readings fall outside agreed thresholds, the clinician is alerted and contacts the patient.
Inhealthcare, the Harrogate-based digital health specialist, created the vital signs self-testing service as part of its work with the NHS to digitise care services across the UK.
Bryn Sage, chief executive, said:
Our technology provides patients with the opportunity to take greater control over their own care, which leads to greater independence and freedom. It also helps the NHS to use its resources more productively by reducing unnecessary clinic visits so it can concentrate on what it does best, which is caring for people.”
The Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust will measure and evaluate the reduction in preventable hospital admissions as well as patient perception of the service.
It has invested in 30 monitoring devices, which will be swapped between patients who will typically use one for six weeks.
Inhealthcare is part of Intechnology plc, which is owned by Peter Wilkinson, who is one of Britain’s most successful technology entrepreneurs.
He has a strong track record in bringing new technology to the masses and is the founder of Planet Online, Sports Internet Group and Freeserve.
About Inhealthcare Ltd
Inhealthcare is a digital health specialist working with the NHS to digitise care services across the UK. The company enables patients to be cared for remotely, whether that’s at work, at home or abroad. Importantly, its services are highly secure, cost effective and studies show consistent improved clinical outcomes. For further information visit www.inhealthcare.co.uk