NHS Central Lancashire is using Intel’s Health Guide with COPD patients in Preston so they can monitor their condition from home.

The Health Guide is being used by 40 patients as part of a 12 month pilot in what is the first implementation of the device in England.

The technology, which is provided by GE Healthcare, allows patients to measure their vital signs and respond to questions about their conditions on a regular basis, with all the data being reviewed by a community matron.

Anne Walton, NHS Central Lancashire’s community matron locality lead, said: "This new technology allows patients to take a more active role in their own care and to learn more about their own condition.

"This will hopefully teach them how to spot signs of symptoms so they can act sooner to avoid being admitted to hospital.

"If this pilot is deemed a success it will potentially open up a new way of working for community matrons and other services, helping to improve the existing quality service we provide to our patients."

Last year, Scotland launched its biggest telehealthcare project. This saw the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian jointly fund a £700,000 telehealth trial to provide 400 patients with long term conditions with Intel’s Health Guide.

A report on the Scotland’s Telecare Development Programme, of which the trial forms part, estimates that total cost savings over the period 2007 to 2010 are on track be a minimum of £43m, as a result of fewer bed days and reduced emergency admissions.

Joe Rafferty, NHS Central Lancashire’s chief executive, said: “This pilot fits with our pledge to ensure that the people of central Lancashire are treated using the most appropriate technology.

“We know that people would much rather receive care and treatment at home rather than have to make frequent trips to hospital. It is a win/win situation for our chronically ill patients and community matrons.”

The pilot will be evaluated at regular intervals to assess how technology is improving their quality of life, their satisfaction with the equipment and the opinion of carers.

If successful the programme will be extended to cover other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and heart failure across central Lancashire.

Richard Rees-Davies, GE Healthcare’s Home Health UK general manager, said: “The increasing cost and burden of chronic disease is a huge problem in the UK and one which is only likely to intensify.

"This is where new health technologies like the Intel Health Guide can make a real difference by extending care from the hospital to the home.

"In particular it will help to improve access, increase quality and reduce the cost of healthcare bringing benefits to patients, health practitioners and the health service.”

Link: Intel