Phone heart monitor success28th May 2007
A six-month NHS pilot trialling heart checks over the telephone has proved a success and could save a minimum of £46m every year.
The trial was carried out by BroomWell Healthwatch in Cumbria and Lancashire. Subjects' heart rhythms were monitored at 15 GP surgeries and two walk-in centres.
The readings were transmitted over the phone in order to be studied. This saved the time and money involved in examining a patient at a hospital appointment. In total, 82% of patients who were tested did not need a hospital visit.
BroomWell Healthwatch said that a "minimum of £46m would be saved every year, with 90,000 unnecessary A&E visits, and 45 unnecessary admissions prevented." It said "wider use" of the system could save the health service £250m a year.
Joe Rafferty, the NHS North West director of commissioning and
performance, said: "The
response from GPs, NHS staff, and patients alike has been
Doctors and nurses used handheld ECG monitors to take heart readings and held the machine alongside a telephone to transmit the data across the line. Experts were then able to analyse the results, and let the person who performed the reading know if the patient required a hospital visit or not.
The government's heart tsar, Roger Boyle, said: "Cardiac telemedicine is an excellent way to ensure that expert advice is available in a matter of minutes, not only to the patient but to the healthcare professionals involved with care."
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