County Durham and Darlington pilots remote monitoring technology

Trust launches Inhealthcare telehealth system for patients on long-term anticoagulation therapy

Digital health service provider, InHealthcare, has teamed up with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust to pilot a new remote monitoring technology designed to improve the clinical outcomes and quality of life of patients on long-term anticoagulation therapy.

Patients who have suffered a stroke or pulmonary embolism, or who have recently undergone surgery, are often prescribed the anticoagulant, warfarin, which requires regular blood tests at clinics to monitor their International Normalised Ratio (INR). The new service removes the need for these weekly or monthly visits by allowing them to self monitor their INR from home.

Previously patients would need to attend weekly or monthly clinics for tests, but the pilot means they can do it from home using an automated phone system

InHealthcare’s digital health platform connects patients who are self testing at home with the nurses in the warfarin clinic, also providing them with access to legacy data about the patient’s condition. The InHealthcare service calls the patient at home or on their mobile, at a time of their choosing. They are then required to enter their INR result using the keypad and answer other questions about their condition. The results are sent immediately to the warfarin clinic, where staff will review the patient’s dosage. The patient then receives a second phone call, informing them of any required changes.

Jeannie Hardy, programme manager for telehealth at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Previously patients would need to attend weekly or monthly clinics for tests, but the pilot means they can do it from home using an automated phone system. We want to give patients more lifestyle choices, while ensuring they receive the medical help and support they need.”

Bryn Sage, managing director at InHealthcare, added: “Our system is underpinned by our unique digital health platform, the Patient Record in the Cloud (PRiC). Before taking part, patients are fully trained, taught how to test their blood accurately, and an automatic phone system is set up to collect their INR results at a time that is convenient for them. Once medical staff have assessed the information, and the recommended warfarin dosages have been sent back, the system has a checking procedure in place to assure clinicians that patients have correctly understood the instructions. All of this affords patients with a freedom simply not attainable with weekly visits to clinics, empowering them to take control of their condition and improving their quality of life.”

This affords patients with a freedom simply not attainable with weekly visits to clinics, empowering them to take control of their condition and improving their quality of life

The pilot has been a great success, prompting the rollout of the service to an additional 100 patients, taking the number from 98 to around 200.

Kay Dover, 50, from Durham, was diagnosed with lupus in 2009 and has been involved in the pilot for a number of months. She said: “When I was asked if I would like to be part of the pilot scheme, I jumped at the chance because I wanted the freedom of not needing to go to the clinic every week. Without it I don’t know how I would have coped the last few months. The system enables me to take more control over my health, to feel a bit more in charge – more human I suppose.”

Feedback from patients involved has been positive, particularly in terms of improvements to their quality of life. They also need to take less time off work to attend appointments. In addition, it is taking the strain off warfarin clinics, which are struggling to cope with patient demand.

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