Group of patients using the INR self-testing service
By Georgina Adamson
Blog 18 November 2015

These days it is widely recognised that health is a joint responsibility between both the healthcare professional and individuals themselves. We know that we can engage in preventative behaviours to reduce the risk of ill health, and can also take measures to self-manage diagnosed conditions. This doesn’t mean receiving less assistance from a doctor, but working in collaboration to live healthily.

Take for instance smoking. Since the discovery that smoking is by far the biggest cause of lung cancer, there has been a huge decline in smokers. 82% of men in Great Britain were smokers in 1948 which has since declined to 22% of men in 2013. There has also been a downward trend in young teens taking up smoking in England (Action on Smoking and Health Report, 2015). This has been helped by initiatives such as Stoptober, the 2009 campaign to display graphic images on cigarette packaging and the more recent tobacco display ban.

With increasing knowledge patients are becoming more and more engaged in their own health. But despite technology making it easier than ever for individuals to self-care, uptake in the NHS can be slow. Advancements in technology have changed the way we book our holidays, bank our money and do our shopping. Isn’t it about time the NHS caught up, and fully embraced this change in lifestyle in healthcare too?

Demands for more convenient care has had some encouraging results. Take for instance Derek Jones who is on warfarin. Prior to the new self-testing initiative in County Durham and Darlington, Derek needed to make the regular trip to the clinic to test his blood INR. Now he is able to self-test from the comfort of his own home, and even holiday abroad with his family in Menorca. For Derek, being able to test his own INR has improved his time spent in therapeutic range by over 20%. Enabling patients to be more involved with their own health and care can enable them to understand their condition further and the best ways to manage it.

With 700 patients on the INR service in County Durham and Darlington, and 1,000 set to join in the next  12 months, County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust are making great steps towards aligning with The Five Year Forward View.

Overcoming the barriers of existing rules and infrastructure, and supporting and respecting empowered patients will enable large scale uptake of remote monitoring and self-care. There are hundreds of patients like Derek that are testing their INR remotely, and that’s encouraging. As technology continues to advance, and with no signs of NHS budgets getting any bigger, self-care will become even more the obvious solution. Convenient healthcare which works around lifestyles should be something offered to every patient like Derek and that’s why we’re supporting Self-Care Week.

Self-Care Week, backed by NHS England takes place this week, 16-22nd November. Show your support by sharing this post.

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