Healthcare teams at Salford Care Organisation, part of the Northern Care Alliance Group, is piloting the use of a remote monitoring system to support heart failure patients.
The tech includes a smartphone app designed by connected care supplier Dignio and easy-to-use bluetooth devices. It’s currently being used by teams in Salford to remotely monitor heart failure patients who may have received reduced check-ups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The app is designed so that patients can be monitored from home and self-manage some of their care – including recording weight and blood pressure between appointments – with the overall aim to reduce future hospital admissions, as patients with heart failure can often require longer stays once admitted.
The system, developed by the Norwegian medical tech firm, automatically sends patient readings direct to clinicians at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust via a data platform.
Although face-to-face appointments will still likely be needed for blood tests and physical examinations, it’s hoped the app can reduce the need for additional travel. Through what amounts to a ‘virtual clinic’, patients can now opt to be seen face to face less often, while still receiving care through video consultations.
Every patient that takes part in the pilot will have access to the Dignio App to record their measurements manually and also receive a set of digital scales and a blood pressure monitor. This data can be reviewed and monitored by the healthcare team, with thresholds for alerts set on an individual patient basis, so that signs of deterioration of are flagged between patient visits.
Dr Nehal Hussain, Consultant Cardiologist and Heart Failure Lead at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said: “One of the key things we look for is the patient’s weight – if it increases more than two kilos over seven days there is the potential for a fluid build-up and we would need to have a telephone consultation to discuss this.
“We can actually use the system to have a video consultation. Rather than having to wait several weeks to find this out, we can potentially pick this up sooner and give the right advice. The aim is to avoid hospital admissions for our patients.
“Patients don’t want to have to go into hospital and we want to try to care for them in their home and in the community.
“We often tell people to weight themselves, so this isn’t new, but if there is a way to get this fed back to us and to show them visually, I’m hoping it will encourage and help us engage more with our patients. There are a large number of patients who do not do this, so hopefully having the app will help them engage with us more.”
Dr Meetali Kakad, Global Chief Medical Officer at Dignio added: “We focus on empowering patients with more knowledge about their disease and tools for self-management in order to slow disease progression and to reduce preventable admissions. Municipalities in Norway who have successfully been using our solutions to follow patients with hypertension and heart failure in the community for almost eight years. We are very excited to be working with the heart failure team at Salford Care.”