Home tool helps heart failure patients manage condition

Patients suffering from chronic heart failure in the Wakefield district are taking part in a trial that allows them to manage their condition better from home.

The partnership trial, being run by BT and Wakefield District Community Healthcare Services (WDCHS) − part of NHS Wakefield District − uses an interactive personal health system called the Intel Health Guide.

This allows patients to record important information about their health, including vital signs such as blood pressure, oxygen levels and weight. These can then be sent over the patient’s broadband line for analysis by their community nurse.

The benefit of the system is that nurses can more easily monitor early warning signs that a patient’s health may be deteriorating and proactively respond to their needs. For example, patients with chronic heart failure can experience rapid weight gain over a few days due to water retention if they do not take their medication. The system enables this to be spotted early on so that corrective action can be taken.

The Intel Health Guide, provided and managed by BT, prompts the patient to input information about their health. It also has videoconferencing, which means that the healthcare professional treating the patient can hold a consultation with them from their computer.

The trial runs until February 2011. A decision on whether the service will be used on a permanent basis will depend on how satisfied the patient and healthcare professional are with it, as well as its value for money.

Alan Wittrick, chief executive of NHS Wakefield District, said: ’While in its early days, overall the feedback we are receiving from patients and community nurses is encouraging. Patients have said they feel more in control of their condition and, in some cases, it has transformed their lives, although we appreciate this won’t be the case for everyone on the trial.’

Engineers are developing electronic and analysis technologies designed to help keep chronically ill people out of hospital. Click hereto read more (subscription required).