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Guy’s and St Thomas’ trials smartphones as health monitors

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust is trialling the use of smartphones as part of a health monitoring kit for heart failure patients

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust are piloting the use of smartphones which monitors patients’ health and send alerts to nurses should the patients be at risk.

The trial consists of 25 heart failure patients equipped with a health monitoring kit that includes a smartphone, scales, a machine that measures blood oxygen levels and a blood pressure cuff.

Patients take daily readings of their weight, heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels, uploaded to the smartphone via Bluetooth and sent to BT’s telehealth service.

Nurses at the service then analyse the data and if there are any unusual findings they discuss them with patients. Nurses at the trust are also informed when there are abnormalities so they can take action.

Martin Larner, a heart failure clinical nurse specialist at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said the kit serves as a reminder to patients that they need to change their lifestyle and take control of their own health.   

“It will help patients to monitor their condition and the system will alert our nurses when there is a problem,” he said.

“In this way we hope to stop patients from reaching crisis point and being admitted to hospital or visiting their GP. The monitoring kit has the potential to save many lives.”

Read more about the use of smartphones in the NHS

The most common cause of heart failure is coronary heart disease. Around 900,000 people with it in the UK have heart failure and 30% to 40% of patients die in the first year of diagnosis.

Life sciences minister George Freeman said the pilot put the power in the hands of the patients, allowing them to “manage their conditions and provide clinicians with the most up-to-date information.

“We live in an exciting age of medical innovations and, by capitalising on the advances in digital health, the NHS will become a world leader in speeding up the time it takes to get new technologies and treatments to patients,” he said.

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