Meet 84 year old John Binks from Wigan
John Binks has always enjoyed an active and healthy life. But when John was diagnosed deep vein thrombosis at the age of 70 his health was placed into the hands of his local GP surgery in Wigan. He was desperate to learn what all the medical terms meant and really understand the implications of taking warfarin. Keen to keep a close eye on his INR levels, John started self-testing from home, in between his regular trips to the clinic.
In March 2015 John was thrilled to be enrolled onto the digital INR self-testing service at his local practice. John relays his INR readings back to the clinic via a secure web based portal. The new service means he no longer has to make inconvenient trips to the clinic to provide his reading and receive his new warfarin dose. Instead, he can self-test and receive his new dose at a time and place convenient to him.
John believes self-testing has increased the convenience to his life immensely. Not only has the service given him a sense of normality back, but it has also helped him to understand his condition. John has become an expert patient and the increase in self-confidence has meant his time in therapeutic range has continued to be stable. He feels liberated from the busy waiting rooms and the nurses are proud of his independence and stable health.
John’s confidence and enthusiasm for self-testing has seen him be a go to person for other patients in the area on warfarin. John has assisted the local healthcare team with training days as well as providing talks to patients interested in taking up the service.
“Self-testing and being connected to the surgery has provided me a lifeline in achieving positive and productive outcomes in my personal health. The main benefit is convenience. What better way of doing your test at home rather than going into a busy clinic, spending a lot of your own time for your test to be carried out. You get selfconfidence and independence by self-testing. It’s very easy to do, you get trained, there are just a few actions you need to take to get a blood sample and like anything with routine it becomes second nature. It’s actually as easy as making a cup of tea.”
Meet 60 year old Martin Smith from Ilkley
As a successful entrepreneur at the helm of a specialist marketing company, Martin Smith’s busy life was turned upside down in 2009 when he suffered a heart attack.
Martin was put on warfarin for the rest of his life, having to attend fortnightly clinic visits to keep a check on his INR levels. Martin’s busy schedule, including holidaying abroad and working across the country all had to be arranged around his clinic visits.
Martin was enrolled onto the digital self-testing in November 2015 via his local GP practice in rural Ilkley. Martin is now enjoying increased freedom from the service, enjoying month long holidays abroad and travelling for work when he needs to.
Martin submits his INR readings and receives his new medication dose via his smartphone app. Since home testing Martin’s readings have become more consistent which he puts down to the increased understanding he now has into how lifestyle affects his readings.
“I’m a big advocate for warfarin as it has allowed me to extend my working life. It allows me to juggle my work obligations as well as my personal life and also plan our holidays. Self-testing has allowed me to understand how warfarin works and helps me to stay in the ideal therapeutic range to keep myself as fit and healthy as possible. My readings are more consistent. It also helps me to follow a good diet and reminds me to avoid food and drink cause reactions like broccoli and cranberries. Previously it was a fortnight or a month between clinics and a fair bit can happen in that period. Now I can just test myself and ring the nurse for any advice. This new app is really positive for anybody that is still actively working. It is so portable. I can test myself on the train going up and down from London.”
Meet Kay Dover
Kay Dover’s life changed in 2009 when she was diagnosed with Lupus, a debilitating form of arthritis. She was prescribed warfarin and told to report for regular check ups at the hospital. But due to an illness in the family, Kay often had to miss scheduled appointments to travel across the country to spend time with her family.
Since self-testing Kay no longer feels guilty about taking regular time from work and the service gave her the freedom to spend quality time with her family without being tied to the clinic.
“When I was asked if I would like to take part in the INR self testing service, I jumped at the chance, because I wanted the freedom of not needing to go to the clinic every week… without it I don’t know how I would have coped the last few months. The system enables me to take more control.”
Patient activation and the road to improved health
Growing evidence emphasises the importance of effective self-management, with those who recognise that they have a key role to play in their own health and care experiencing better health outcomes. With 60 to 70 per cent of premature deaths caused by poor health behaviours, there is a great need for the NHS to become better at helping patients to become more engaged in managing their own health.1
For many, the willingness and ability to be independent towards managing their health will come with ease. However for others, getting the right support and guidance from clinicians is essential for patients to build up their selfconfidence. Our experiences have shown that a structured service deployment programme has been key to engaging patients to effectively enable them to self-test. In many cases, when appropriately supported, it has been the patients with the lowest levels of activation that have made the most gains. For these patients, empowerment will help to improve their health outcomes, their experience with the NHS and reduce their risk of hospital admission. A study found that less activated patients had 8 percent higher costs in the base year and 21 percent higher costs in the following year than more activated patients.2
This link between patient activation and improved health outcomes was demonstrated in a study of 200 self-testing warfarin patients at County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust where the time in therapeutic range (TTR) increased by an average of 20% for 70% of patients on the service.3