Vulnerable heart patients in Salford are now being monitored remotely through a smartphone app and virtual clinic.

Salford Care Organisation are piloting the use of a remote monitoring system which uses a smartphone app and connected Bluetooth devices.

It encourages patients to self-manage and record their weight and blood pressure between appointments, two factors that are linked to high risk of heart conditions.

Developed by Norwegian medtech firm Dignio, the system automatically sends a patients’ readings direct to clinicians at Salford Royal via a special data platform.

Face-to-face appoints are still required for blood tests and physical examinations, but the digital system means patients have to travel into the hospital less frequently.

All patients taking part in the pilot have access to the Dignio app, 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 allows the platform to flag any signs that fall out of the acceptable category for individual patients.

Dr Nehal Hussain, consultant cardiologist and heart failure lead at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said: “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.”

Heart patients can spend up to 11 days in hospital if they become unwell, costing the NHS £4,000 for each stay.

Through using the Dignio app Salford Care Organisation, part of the Northern Care Alliance Group, is hoping to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and therefore save money.

Dr Meetali Kakad, global chief medical officer at Dignio, added: “We focus on empowering patients with more knowledge about their disease and tools for self-management in order to slow disease progression and to reduce preventable admissions.

“Municipalities in Norway who have successfully been using our solutions to follow patients with hypertension and heart failure in the community for almost 8 years.  We are very excited to be working with the heart failure team at Salford Care.”