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Covid-19: NHS invests in telehealth to help patients monitor conditions at home during pandemic


By Awil Mohamoud
Reporter
9 June 2020

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NHS Liverpool CCG is set to roll out home monitoring equipment to 6,000 patients living with long-term health problems, following an £850,000 NHS England investment to boost telehealth in the area.

The funding, designed to support the CCG’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, will mean patients can continue to monitor their conditions and get help if needed, while also keeping safe by limiting their social interaction.

After receiving training, patients living with respiratory, heart and diabetic conditions will use a smartphone, blood pressure monitor and pulse oximeter to take vital sign readings and report possible symptoms on the system. A team of nurses will continually monitor the information and triage patients to provide advice, support and referrals.

The scheme will also help relieve pressures on the health system, by ensuring people manage their illnesses and stay out of hospitals, where possible, Mersey Care Telehealth Service programme manager Peter Almond said.

It can also be used ‘to support patients being discharged from a local hospital after recovering from Covid-19’, which can be ‘reassuring for patients and their families’.

NHS Liverpool CCG commissioning lead John Webb said: ‘Over the last few years we have built up a real specialism in health technology in Liverpool and we’re really delighted that several other neighbouring areas have already expressed a keen interest in sharing that learning and adopting the system too.’

Use of telehealth nationally

NHS England also yesterday announced it will accelerate its roll out of remote monitoring equipment to thousands of patients with cystic fibrosis – a group which is among those classed as at ‘extreme risk’ from coronavirus.

This equipment includes a spirometer to measure lung capacity and an app for sharing information with their doctor.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens labelled this a ‘landmark moment’ for patients and their families living with cystic fibrosis.

‘The Covid-19 outbreak has hit every household in the country but for some people with certain conditions, this virus will have been especially unsettling and dangerous, which is why the NHS is looking to make sure those at greatest risk can get safe, tailored care, despite the ongoing pandemic threat,’ he added.

The ability to measure lung function at home, which is normally done in hospitals, is ‘vitally important’ in ‘reducing the need for hospital attendances or admissions’, NHS England national clinical director for respiratory services Professor Andrew Menzies-Gow said.

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