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Lorrain Hyland, Telehealthcare Lead for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, tells us how telehealth remote monitoring is contributing to Putting You First, a five year change programme which aims to improve health and support and care services for older people.

Dumfries and Galloway is one of the most rural areas of Scotland, with around a quarter of older people living in remote locations where access to emergency services can be difficult. Current estimates indicate that there are approximately 15,000 people in the region living with at least one long-term condition.

New thinking

As part of Putting You First we wanted to explore new ways of providing support to people with long-term conditions in their own homes, improving their care and increasing efficiency. We began a test of change using community-based, GP-led model of remote monitoring involving patients living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the Annan area.

COPD patients recommended for the Annan Remote Monitoring (ARM) service are those who have experienced two or more exacerbations within the last year which have led to a hospital admission. Each patient is provided with Tunstall’s mymedic system to take their vital signs and check their symptoms every day. This information is sent to the response centre where specialist staff can check for any early signs of deterioration in their condition. If there are any signs that someone would benefit from medical intervention, the response centre staff alert the appropriate nurse or doctor so they can take action quickly. This early detection and intervention aims to reduce exacerbations, improving the patients’ quality of life and reduce the need for unplanned hospital admissions.

New results

We’re also seeing that the system is helping patients to become more aware of how their behaviour affects their condition, and gives them the confidence to self-manage, resulting in long-term change and improved health outcomes. By supporting people at home, not only can we increase their quality of life, but we can also deliver services more efficiently, reducing the amount of travelling for both patients and clinicians and improving caseload management.

It’s still relatively early days, but the ARM test has shown that patients find the technology easy to use and it helps them to feel confident about managing their own health at home. Results so far have shown a decrease in patients being taken to hospital, an increase in their skills to self manage their condition and reassurance for family members that they are being checked on a daily basis until their condition improves.

One patient was very satisfied with the experience of using the daily monitoring and said “this has kept me out of hospital”.

Exciting opportunities

Remote monitoring can be used as part of a wider web based health solution to support people with the management of their health. We are excited through the integration agenda in Scotland to be working with a range of partners, exploring how regional services can be further enabled with the use of technology. The test represents an exciting opportunity to support our busy staff and hospitals, creating more face to face treatment and support time for those truly in need of our attention as well as making person-centred care a reality.

To find out more about ARM you can watch extracts from our recent technology event here.

You can also view a Telehealth and Telecare Learning Network webcast here.

Lorrain will be speaking about Putting You First at International Telecare and Telehealth Conference on 17 November. Find out more here.