New technology helps heart failure and lung patients stay out of hospital
Anglia Picture Agency
A self-testing service used by patients in Norfolk with heart failure or serious lung conditions has stemmed the number of people having to go into hospital.
The service, used by Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCHC), means patients can check their vital signs at home and was designed to improve quality of life for patients and free up hospital beds and surgery time.
The technology enables clinicians to monitor trends and intervene if readings move outside individual thresholds.
And encourages patients to recognise changing symptoms and promotes self-management of their conditions.
The number of days patients spent in a hospital bed plummeted by 88pc since the introduction of the service, and A&E admissions dropped by 89pc.
Both GP visits and out-of-hours appointments also dropped by 65pc.
Tony Robinson, 83, a retired transport driver with heart failure from Norwich, said: “We have the automated call every day at 11am and I provide readings for weight, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and pulse.
“It provides great peace of mind and lots of people say how well I seem. Some people might be afraid of trying out new technology, but I try to advise them how good it is.”
His wife Jan Robinson, 72, a retired auxiliary nurse, said: “It is very reassuring for me. If we have a problem, we are straight through to the heart failure nurse - and consultant if necessary - in a very short space of time.
“The problem is sorted out, usually through medication, and we don’t have to go back into hospital or see a GP. It saves a lot of waiting for doctors and cuts out a lot of anxiousness.
“My children and grandchildren supported us with the technology when we first started. Now we have mastered it. This is a great way forward.”
At the moment 51 patients were using the service, and although there had also been reductions in bed days and A&E admissions for those not on the service, it was thought this was due to nurses having more time to concentrate on the most needy.
Bryn Sage, chief executive of technology provider Inhealthcare, said: “We are thrilled that the service is proving to be a success by helping high-dependency patients to enjoy a greater quality of life. Rolled out nationally, the service could have a hugely positive impact by reducing pressure on the NHS.”