A portable monitoring device that detects heart irregularities is to be rolled out across the North East and North Cumbria after a successful pilot in an NHS trust.

The KardiaMobile 6L portable ECG device was used to monitor Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) patients in their own homes during the early stages of the pandemic.

The wireless device produces heart readings in 30 seconds and allowed patients who require regular ECGs to continue to be monitored at home while travelling to hospital was minimised to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

It is placed on the patient’s knee and remotely records the ECG via Bluetooth onto the professional’s trust-approved smartphone or tablet. The reading can then be emailed to the patient’s clinical team as a PDF.

The team at TEWV procured 30 devices which were used during routine visits to track the impact of antipsychotic drugs on a patient’s cardiac health over an initial three-month pilot period.

During that time, more than 300 patients were monitored within the trust, saving an average of 17.5 minutes per ECG. Feedback from staff and patients proved positive, with 100% of patients surveyed saying they preferred the new technology to the old approach.

Dr Mani Santhana Krishnan, consultant in old age psychiatry and liaison psychiatry at TEWV, said: “It’s very important that people taking antipsychotic medicines have an ECG before initiation and regularly thereafter. This device significantly improved the practical problems we encountered around the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically around clinically vulnerable people who were shielding.

“Monitoring a patient’s health in their own home is a much more comfortable and less intrusive way – and crucially gives us reliable data to keep people safe while they are taking these medications.

“Conducting an ECG as a part of a routine community visit rather than arranging a separate appointment improved efficiency and overall patient experience.”

Following the results, NHSX provided funding for a further 120 devices to extend the roll-out across TEWV and into a second trust, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) with support from the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria.

Tara Donnelly, chief digital officer at NHSX, said: “Through the pandemic at NHSX, we have been helping scale new technology that allows clinicians to monitor and assess patients’ conditions remotely.

“As part of our Innovation Collaborative, NHSX is delighted to be working in partnership with innovators and teams that are transforming care for thousands of people.

“More patients in the North East and North Cumbria requiring antipsychotic medication will now have their ECG recorded in their own homes and assessed remotely by clinicians that ensure their medication can be safely administered.”

Once the new monitoring technology is in use across the trust some 300 hours of clinical time is expected to be saved per month.

It is estimated to save around 255 days of clinical time a year across the 85 teams who will be using the devices, which should deliver annual efficiency savings valued in excess of £300,000.

Charlotte Fox, digital transformation lead at the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria, said: “We believe that the team is the first in the country, possibly the world, to use and evaluate the device for mental health patients in this way, which ultimately helped to keep patients safe and in their homes during the pandemic.”