The Royal Free Hospital has taken part in a study which found that an app which monitors liver disease patients while they are at home can lead to a reduction in hospital admissions.

The trial required patients to collect a range of daily measurements such as blood pressure, weight and their ECG, which was blue-toothed from hardware technology to the CirrhoCare app. They were also asked to track their food, fluid and alcohol intake and so a modified ‘stroop test’ to measure brain function.

The information was then relayed via a secure server and digital platform. Doctors were able to review the information and spot any potential health deterioration and intervene earlier if necessary. Liver clinicians evaluating the information could contact patients via phone or text on the app if needed and adjust medication or fluid intake.

Liver consultant Professor Raj Mookerjee and his team, who trialled the app, found that not only were patients in the trial less likely to be hospitalised than their non-app using peers, but that those using the app who did require hospitalisation were discharged sooner and needed fewer outpatient procedures.

The small study of 20 people was funded by INNOVATE UK and the Royal Free Charity. A further extension fund has been granted and Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust is currently seeking applications for grants from other NHS and public large scale funding streams to support a larger controlled trial.

Professor Mookerjee said: “The participants said it was easy to follow the instructions, gave them a focus and a better understanding of their condition and it helped them feel more in control”.

He continued: “For us, it was very helpful because we could tell if, for instance, someone was struggling with their brain dysfunction or fluid accumulation, and arrange for changes to their treatment in the community, or if needed, bring them into hospital to help them.”

Looking ahead, Professor Mookerjee is hoping to run a larger trial in order to advance treatment for cirrhosis patients.

Remote monitoring has become even-more valuable to the NHS since the Covid pandemic swept through the country. Earlier this year the Royal Free fitted its first patient with a new type of implantable defibrillator that uses Bluetooth and an app to monitor patients and if necessary deliver a ‘jolt’.