The technology is currently being piloted with 40 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a serious and incapacitating condition which affects over 3.7 million people in the UK and typically causes acute shortness of breath and susceptibility to lung infections. If successful, NHS Central Lancashire aims to expand the programme to help patients with other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and heart failure across central Lancashire.
The IntelÒ Health Guide was designed and developed by Intel to address the challenges of chronic conditions for patients, their families and the healthcare professionals responsible for their care. The device, currently available in the US and UK through GE Healthcare, allows patients to measure their vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse and weight, and respond to questions about their diseases on a daily basis, with all data reviewed by the community matron team. The technology, which also includes a videoconferencing capability enabling patients to talk with community matrons, allows the care team to assess the patient for signs that their condition is worsening. The hope is that early recognition and treatment of a change in symptoms will reduce the need for admissions to hospital. The technology also helps patients to manage their own condition, look out for particular symptoms and take medication at the right time.
Anne Walton, NHS Central Lancashire’s community matron locality lead, said: "I am very excited to be leading on this project. My team and I have been working very hard to get this pilot up and running and we are getting lots of positive feedback from patients.
"This new technology allows patients to take a more active role in their own care and to learn more about their own condition. This will hopefully teach them how to spot signs of symptoms so they can act sooner to avoid being admitted to hospital.
"If this pilot is deemed a success it will potentially open up a new way of working for community matrons and other services, helping to improve the existing quality service we provide to our patients."
Jackie Vella, Preston Breatheasy Group’s chair, said: “I personally think this new technology is fantastic and is a real step forward. I think it will be well received by patients. I know if I was offered it I would jump at the opportunity to be involved in this pioneering pilot.”
The pilot – which started in June 2010 – will run for 12 months across Preston and will be evaluated at regular intervals to assess how the technology is helping improve patients’ quality of life, their general satisfaction with the equipment and the opinion of carers.
Joe Rafferty, NHS Central Lancashire’s chief executive, said: “This pilot fits with our pledge to ensure that the people of central Lancashire are treated using the most appropriate technology. We know that people would much rather receive care and treatment at home rather than have to make frequent trips to hospital. It is a win/win situation for our chronically ill patients and community matrons.”
Richard Rees-Davies, GE Healthcare’s Home Health UK general manager, said: “The increasing cost and burden of chronic disease is a huge problem in the UK and one which is only likely to intensify. This is where new health technologies like the IntelÒ Health Guide can make a real difference by extending care from the hospital to the home. In particular it will help to improve access, increase quality and reduce the cost of healthcare bringing benefits to patients, health practitioners and the health service.
“The trial with NHS Central Lancashire is an extension of our alliance with Intel to drive new models of care including more personalised care at home. Our experience with the IntelÒ Health Guide in the US shows that it can have a positive impact on many types of chronic disease. At NHS Central Lancashire we have also seen the benefits of collaboration working with the health trust to ensure the effective roll-out of the technology.”
Dennis Winder, 68, from Fulwood, Preston has had COPD for the past 25 years.
“My illness is getting progressively worse year on year,” he said. “There are things I could do a year ago which I cannot do today. It is a very restrictive illness and can stop me from doing the things I love. I can’t play in the park with my grandchildren or go out socialising down the pub as much I used to. I love my garden but I have to rely on my wife Stella to mow the lawn as I get short of breath pushing the lawn mower.
“I try not to let it interfere with my life too much. Life is for living. It’s Stella who suffers most. She is the one who keeps me going. I don’t know what I would do without her at times.
“The equipment is brilliant and very easy to use. It keeps me in constant contact with the community matron team while not being intrusive. If the matrons think there is a problem they give me a call to check I am ok. There was an occasion the other week when my measurements went up and John, my community matron, was round my house in no time to check on me.
“I find the educational videos are useful and I feel that I now have more contact with the matrons, even though it is not always face-to-face. It gives me and Stella peace of mind to know we are not alone and help is as hand.”
Stella, 66, added: “In the past I have had to keep a close eye on Dennis and I felt it was my decision as to when to get in touch with the community matrons. I felt that I didn’t want to be a nuisance to them and so quite often left it too late to get in touch. This would result in Dennis having to be admitted to hospital.
“This new system is a great relief to me as it is shares the decisions with the professionals. This way Dennis is treated sooner and before things get worse.
“I have also found that I am learning a lot about Dennis’ condition too. Looking at his vital signs every day I can see the trends, which can indicate his symptoms are changing and can ensure action is taken.
“This technology is amazing and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
About GE Healthcare
GE Healthcare (gehealthcare.com) provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Our broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services help our customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, we partner with healthcare leaders, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable healthcare systems.
Our “healthymagination” vision for the future invites the world to join us on our journey as we continuously develop innovations focused on reducing costs, increasing access and improving quality and efficiency around the world. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is a $16 billion unit of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE). Worldwide, GE Healthcare employs more than 46,000 people committed to serving healthcare professionals and their patients in more than 100 countries.
For our latest news, please visit newsroom.gehealthcare.com/.
About Central Lancashire PCT
NHS Central Lancashire is the primary care trust for Preston, Chorley and South Ribble and west Lancashire. It receives a budget from the Department of Health to plan and pay for local NHS services. This includes paying GPs and dentists, commissioning hospital and mental health services and managing public health campaigns. It does not manage local NHS hospitals, which are independent trusts, but does pay for many of the services they offer.
Please contact the Customer Care Team for information and advice about services arranged and provided by NHS Central Lancashire. Freephone 0800 032 24 24 or email us at customer-care[.]centrallancashire.nhs.uk.