AN innovative Liverpool service which helps to improve the quality of life of people with long-term health conditions has seen its 6,000th patient.
Health Technology (Telehealth), run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, enables people to monitor their health in their own home, but with the support of nurses and other specialists.
Patients with heart problems, diabetes and breathing difficulties use special equipment to log their vital signs and answer simple questions that help them to think about and describe their health on a daily basis.
Nurses from Mersey Care remotely monitor the readings and answers from a central hub, providing help for the patient if the readings give cause for concern.
The technology helps patients to take control of their health and live more independently at home. It also helps them to improve their understanding of their condition and provides peace of mind to them and their families, that there are health professionals available to support them.
Mersey Care is the largest provider of Telehealth in the UK and Europe, with the initiative generating lots of interest from visiting health organisations all seeking to learn best practice from Liverpool.
Carol Hughes, Mersey Care’s Clinical and Operational Lead, Health Technology Services, said: “Our team is very proud that this simple technology can make such a difference to people living with a chronic condition. We know that helping people to take more control of their condition improves their quality of life.
“This technology is changing the way care is being delivered and what sets us apart from other organisations using Telehealth is that we have a dedicated hub of nurse advisers whose role it is to monitor and assist patients and this works incredibly well.
“We are also keen to stress that the technology should be an aid, not a barrier and all our patients receive training in using it. As one of our older patients said, ‘if you can work a TV remote control you can easily operate Telehealth.”
The technology has transformed the quality of life of one Liverpool patient who suffers from several health conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), causing breathing problems and poor airflow.
Jean Dawber, 74, (pictured) began using Telehealth earlier this year after her health deteriorated. The mum of two grown up children and grandmother of three, says it has vastly improved her quality of life and increased her independence.
“I’m able to take my own SATS readings (levels of oxygen saturation in the blood), my blood pressure and pulse, “says Jean. “The readings go directly into a device in my lounge and are then automatically sent to the nursing advisers at Mersey Care. If the readings are a bit higher or lower than usual, I might repeat them later on and I can work out what might have caused it.
“The technology has widened my understanding of COPD and having a greater knowledge of it enables me to better manage my other conditions, including osteoporosis and a hernia.
“My readings will inform how I go about my day, including how long I can walk my dog Sugar or if I can go shopping or do some housework. I always have the backup of the nursing staff and the device itself also answers questions. It not only gives me peace of mind but my relatives as well.”
Almost 1,000 people across the city are currently receiving daily care through Telehealth. A recent study looking at its impact in Liverpool showed a reduction in hospital admissions, costs and secondary care appointments between 22% and 32% for patients that have engaged with the service.
The Telehealth Service is funded by Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and delivered by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, with support from Informatics Merseyside. The Telehealth software and patient equipment is provided by Docobo.