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Nurses pilot smartphones to improve heart failure care

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Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has introduced a special smartphone that monitors the health of heart failure patients and alerts nurses if they are at risk of deteriorating.

In total, 25 patients in Lambeth and Southwark are trialling the smartphone as part of a monitoring kit that takes daily readings of weight, heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels.

“The system will alert our nurses when there is a problem”

Martin Larner

They are provided with a smartphone, scales, a machine to measure oxygen levels in the blood, and a blood pressure cuff.

Telehealth nurses analyse the resulting data, discuss unusual findings with patients, and inform specialist nurses at the trust when an abnormal result is detected so they can take immediate action – potentially saving lives, according to those behind the initiative.

The inpatient and community heart failure specialist nurses will also give patients a call if they notice anything untoward in the data that the telehealth service shares with them, which can save patients coming into hospital or clinic at all, a trust spokeswoman told Nursing Times.

Around 900,000 people in the UK have heart failure and 30-40% die within the first year of diagnosis.

Martin Larner, a heart failure clinical nurse specialist at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “The kit is a constant reminder to our patients that they need to change their lifestyle and take control of their health so their condition doesn’t worsen.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Nurses use smartphones to improve heart failure care

Heart failure smartphones

“It will help patients to monitor their condition and the system will alert our nurses when there is a problem,” he said. “In this way we hope to stop patients from reaching crisis point and being admitted to hospital or visiting their GP. The monitoring kit has the potential to save many lives.”

Alison Pollard, deputy head of nursing for community inpatients at the trust, added: “It’s not always easy for heart failure patients to keep track of their symptoms and they may deteriorate quite suddenly.

“By monitoring their health every day, we can quickly spot if there is a problem,” she said. “We can take action, including adjusting their medication or arranging for them to get more support from our inpatient or community heart failure nurse specialists.”

The data is collected through Bluetooth and sent to BT’s Telehealth service. 

George Freeman, the government’s life sciences minister, has backed the project.

He said: “This trial is great news for NHS patients, putting the power in their hands to manage their conditions and providing clinicians with the most up-to-date information.”


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