Exemplary Lanarkshire work in sharp focus as new technology scaled up across Scotland
Published: Friday, 31 May 2019
Exemplary work in Lanarkshire has become the focal point for a major rollout of new technology
Exemplary work in Lanarkshire has become the focal point for a major rollout of new technology that will allow people to monitor blood pressure at home.
On Thursday Health Secretary Jeane Freeman visited Hunter Health Centre in East Kilbride to scale up the programme ¬- which reduces the need for GP consultations and can help to deliver more accurate readings - across Scotland. Patients are shown how to measure their own blood pressure and text the results to a system called Florence, or Flo. Their GP or practice nurse is then able to monitor the readings, and arrange a face-to-face appointment only when necessary.
The system has been trialled successfully at more than 150 practices throughout Scotland, with more than 10,000 patients benefitting to date. Lanarkshire is one of a number of areas across Scotland that will be expanding this programme over the next two years, backed with £1.2 million of investment from the Scottish Government.
Lanarkshire Telehealth team, a Lanarkshire-wide service hosted within South Lanarkshire Health & Social Care Partnership, is widely regarded as a major partner in the Scottish Government’s Home & Mobile Health Monitoring (HMHM) programme and have already made significant progress introducing the technology in recent years. The award winning service, who have hosted various international fact-finding delegations, has supported the recruitment of 3,600 patients to remotely monitor their blood pressure. To date a further 3,500 people have also used Flo to monitor other health conditions.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman saw Flo being used first-hand during her visit to Hunter Health Centre, speaking to patient Julie Chambers via Attend Anywhere Video Conferencing technology.
During the link, Julie explained: “When I discovered I had high blood pressure, it was concerning. However, the prospect of having to go to a doctor’s surgery or clinic to get it regularly checked was enough to raise my blood pressure even higher! Between work and family I lead a very busy lifestyle.
“Being offered the use of Florence was a brilliant alternative – and I think the hassle free-nature of it, without having to commute and take time out of a busy day, probably gave a truer reflection of my day-to-day readings.”
Ms Freeman said: “This technology reduces the need for GP appointments, saving time that doctors can spend on more complex cases. It also leads to more accurate readings, because we know that some patients experience anxiety when attending appointments, which can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.
“By investing in improved technology across health and social care, we can improve patients’ experience and outcomes, give them more choice about how to manage their conditions, and free up capacity in the system.”
Morag Hearty, NHS Lanarkshire TEC Programme Manager & HMHM Lead, TEC and Digital Healthcare Innovation, Scottish Government, said: “Home monitoring is a vital
component of the transformation of health and care delivery. It can support people to feel safe and more confident in their everyday life, as well as making sure people are independent where possible.”
Calum Campbell, Chief Executive of NHS Lanarkshire, added: “The exemplary work carried out in Lanarkshire around Telehealth bodes well for the future, both here and nationally. Technology, like Flo, will have an important part to play as we augment existing services and drive to deliver health and care that is both safe and tailored to people’s lifestyles.”
Flo technology the icing on the cake for top baker Julie
A successful baker has described how Flo Telehealth texting technology has proved to be the icing on the cake in regaining full health.
A year ago, Julie Chambers, a mum-of-two who bakes everything from wedding to intricate novelty cakes, discovered she was living with high cholesterol and blood pressure during a routine health check.
Julie, from East Kilbride in South Lanarkshire, was referred by her GP, via the Physical Activity Prescription (PAP), to physical activity opportunities at her local gym.
“When I discovered I had high blood pressure, it was concerning,” said Julie. “I’ve got to admit, however, that the prospect of having to go to a Doctor’s surgery or clinic to get it regularly checked was enough to raise my blood pressure even higher! Between work and family I lead a very busy lifestyle.
“I felt like I didn’t want to be taking up the valuable time of clinicians either.
“Being offered the use of Flo was a brilliant alternative – and I think the hassle free-nature of it, without having to commute and take time out of a busy day, probably gave a truer reflection of my day-to-day readings.”
Julie was equipped and taught how to self-monitor her blood pressure and texted readings from home – where she also works from – every day.
The system was specifically programmed. If Julie’s readings were outwith prearranged parameters she was advised of what action to take via text message.
Clinicians were also able view real time information about Julie at any time.
Through the PAP, run by South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture, Julie also established a regular fitness regime attending her local gym four times a week. British Heart Foundation funding has supported blood pressure checks for anyone referred to the PAP.
Julie said: “Regular exercise has really provided me with sense of wellbeing. The high blood pressure is now under control and I’m in great health.
“Throughout the process, I had the peace of mind that I was linked to professionals and supported through the Flo text system.
“I also liked the fact it was responsive to the data I was providing. My job is all about accurate quantities and ingredients. Inputting my readings and receiving confirmation I was on track was really reassuring.”