Patients with long-time heart conditions are now able to monitor themselves at home and reduce their chances of having a stroke with a new technology service available on the NHS.
The service is for people at risk of stroke who are prescribed the drug warfarin to prevent blood clotting. They have to attend medical clinics on a regular basis for blood tests to determine their correct dosage.
Now, patients can test themselves at home and send in their results via a bluetooth mobile app, secure web portal or automated telephone call to receive their dosage information.
Research has shown that this type of self-testing can improve the quality of therapy, reduce blood clotting and cut mortality rates.
Inhealthcare is supplying the pioneering technology for the service, which is being delivered by staff from The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs North Manchester General Hospital.
It is available for up to 200 patients with Atrial Fibrillation in North Manchester. Their respective clinics will still be their first point of contact if they have any problems or concerns.
Reducing pressures on clinics and increased convenience for patients
Bryn Sage, chief executive at Inhealthcare, said: “Our technology allows people with long-term heart conditions to stay on top of their health without the hassle of inconvenient and time-consuming hospital or clinic appointments.
“This is exactly the sort of service that can reduce pressure on busy NHS clinics and allow staff to spend more time with patients who need care the most.
“We have rolled out similar services in the North East of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland and are looking forward to helping patients and the health service in Greater Manchester.
“In the last 12 months, we have enabled 78,000 digital consultations, connecting patients to clinicians remotely.”
How the INR self-testing service works
Patients are supplied with an INR self-testing handheld device to test their blood’s international normalised ratio – INR – at home. Patients are asked a series of automated health questions as they send their readings to their clinics for analysis.
This yields the correct dosage information although clinicians approve the process before it is sent back to patients.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends INR self-testing for patients who wish to do so.
Betty Brough, lead anticoagulant nurse specialist at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The new system gives patients the freedom from attending a clinic appointment every four weeks on average and the ability to test their INR at their convenience.
“It is proving very popular and within the next six months we hope to have enrolled 200 patients onto the scheme.
“The overall outcomes will hopefully give more flexibility to the patient and show that they have more time in their ideal therapeutic range to ensure their warfarin therapy is effective and will reduce their chance of having a stroke.”
Harold Simpson, a patient from Newton Heath, has been attending an anticoagulant clinic every two to four weeks since 2011.
He said: “Self testing is fantastic. It has freed me up from attending so many clinic appointments and it works for me.”