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App to be rolled out in Scotland for remote hypertension monitoring

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New app technology is being expanded in Scotland that government ministers say will enable practice nurses to better monitor blood pressure with fewer patient appointments needed.

The idea has previously been trialled successfully at more than 150 general practices in Scotland with more than 10,000 patients having benefited so far, said the government.

“Home monitoring is a vital component of the transformation of health and care delivery”

Morag Hearty

It now plans to roll it out throughout country over the next two years backed with investment worth £1.2m.

Under the system, nurses show their patients how to measure their own blood pressure and to then text the results via a smartphone application, or “app”, called Florence, or Flo.

A practice nurse or GP can then monitor the readings remotely and arrange a face-to-face appointment when necessary.

A study on patient experience of using the telehealth technology for hypertension monitoring was published in 2012 in the BMJ Open journal.

Based on a survey of 124 patients at 10 practices in Stoke on Trent in England, the study paper said “patient satisfaction was high” with the Florence app.

Hypertension currently affects around 31 % of adults in Scotland and forecast projections indicate that this will double in the next 15 years.

Measuring blood pressure is the third most common reason for attending primary care appointments in Scotland, according to a government statement on the planned roll-out.

Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman said the new technology provided more accurate blood pressure readings and also cut down on the number of appointments required.

“By investing in improved technology across health and social care, we can improve patients’ experience and outcomes, and free up capacity in the system at the same time,” she said.

The Florence SMS system is already used by around 18,000 patients in Scotland for a range of conditions and services, with hypertension management in primary care being the most common.

Scottish government

Jeane Freeman

Source: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Jeane Freeman

According to documents published in December 2018, organisations were urged to apply for funding worth up to £150,000 each to support up to a 24 month implementation project.

The app is part of the Scale-Up BP project, which itself forms part of the Scottish government’s Technology Enabled Care (TEC) programme.

Established in 2015-16, the aim of the programme to accelerate the use of proven technology to support people to manage their health and well-being at home, and in their community.

For example, this has included patient to clinician video consultations, home and mobile health monitoring and telecare, and has so far involved more than 90,000 patients.

Morag Hearty, NHS Lanarkshire’s telehealth manager and national strategic lead for home and mobile health monitoring, said: “Home monitoring is a vital component of the transformation of health and care delivery.

“It can support people to feel safe and more confident in their everyday life, as well as making sure people are independent where possible,” she said.

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