A self-testing service for heart failure patients has been launched by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.

In July, the trust initially gave six patients in the Norwich district a device that allows monitoring of their vital signs including blood pressure, temperature, weight, pulse rate and oxygen saturation in their own homes. The self-monitoring technology was provided by the Harrogate based company, Inhealthcare.

The data was transmitted to the hospital community team via an online submission form or automated telephone service, and attached to patient record. Action can then be taken, if necessary, based on the readings.  

Mark Catling, medical devices operational manager at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, said the technology will “offer huge, tangible benefits for both our patients and our clinical staff”.

“Setting strict parameters on vital signs will allow staff to be notified and then respond quickly when alerted to anything of concern.”

The devices were given to those who recently experienced heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There are 30 monitoring devices that will be used by patients for six weeks each; meaning up to 240 people could use the technology in the first year.

Currently observations occur in clinic, at home or via telephone consultation. The aim is to reduce hospital admissions and cut travel costs.

Bryn Sage, Inhealthcare’s chief executive, said: “If 30 beds are freed, there are beds for the system to take advantage of with a knock on effect across the hospital”.

Sage added that patients benefit from the technology as they “actually see their own reading and so improve own lifestyle and take responsibility.”

Inhealthcare is probably best known for its Pain Sense app, which helps people with chronic pain. The company was also used by the Isle of Wight clinical commissioning group in January 2016 to pilot a self-monitoring service for patients using the anticoagulation drug, Warfarin.

Norfolk serves more than 880,000 people, and the technology will be used by heart failure nurses, community patrons and case managers in Norwich, south Norfolk and north Norfolk.

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