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Home ECG monitoring reduces costs and improves care

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A telehealth pilot project that helps cardiac patients in the North West self-manage their condition has saved £185,000 in 14 months.

The project from Knowsley Health and Wellbeing – jointly funded by NHS Knowsley and Knowsley Council - used state-of-the-art ECG technology to monitor patients with heart failure and cardiovascular disease in their own homes.   

Patients use a hand-held device to record a 20-second ECG rhythm strip. Along with daily blood pressure and blood oxygen readings this information is then transmitted remotely to a clinician who can monitor the patient’s condition in real time.

The information is then used to assess the patient’s condition and determine the need for a full ECG, cutting down on unnecessary visits to outpatient clinics and emergency hospital admissions.

Between January 2009 and March 2010, 37 patients took part in the pilot, saving around £5,600 per patient.

Knowsley Health and Wellbeing assistant commissioning manager Darren Persand said the project also showed overall improvements in patients’ cardiovascular health through a decrease in mean arterial pressure, and “significant” psychological benefits from being able to recuperate outside of the hospital setting.

“A gradual decrease in mean arterial pressure is more beneficial to the patient in the long term as it means they have less risk of cardiac problems in the future. Making a recovery in their own familiar environment is preferable than being in a hospital setting and is also more convenient for friends and family of the patient,” he said.

Knowlsey Health and Wellbeing now plans to roll the telehealth programme out on a larger scale to include palliative care and mental health patients.

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