Vulnerable heart failure patients who have seen reduced hospital check-ups during the COVID-19 pandemic are now being monitored remotely, following the introduction of a state-of-the-art digital care solution.
Healthcare teams at Salford Care Organisation, part of the Northern Care Alliance Group, are piloting the use of a remote monitoring system which uses a smartphone app and easy-to-use connected Bluetooth devices.
It is empowering patients to self manage and record their weight and blood pressure between appointments.
The new system, developed by Norwegian medical tech firm, Dignio, automatically sends a patients’ readings direct to clinicians at Salford Royal Hospital via a special data platform.
And, although face-to-face appointments are still needed for this group of patients to do blood test and physical examinations; they are now happening less frequently.
Everyone taking part in the pilot gets access to the Dignio App to record their measurements manually and they also get a set of digital scales and blood pressure monitor.
The data can be reviewed and monitored by the healthcare team and thresholds for alerts set on an individual patient basis.
This means that when something falls outside acceptable range clinicians are alerted.
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 focus on empowering patients with more knowledge about their disease and tools for self management in order to slow disease progression and reduce preventable admissions
“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 weigh 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.”
If a patient with heart failure becomes unwell, it can potentially lead to an admission, with a patient staying in hospital for up to 11 days. This costs around £4,000 for each stay.
But, by identifying a problem before this happens using the MyDignio App, potentially means hospital admissions can be reduced.
Dr Meetali Kakad, global chief medical officer at Dignio, said: “We focus on empowering patients with more knowledge about their disease and tools for self management in order to slow disease progression and reduce preventable admissions.”