A new home mobile health monitoring system is about to be tested across Tayside. People with high blood pressure and heart conditions could benefit, as well as others trying to stop smoking or manage their weight. The idea is to help people get more involved in their own healthcare and free up time for both patients and clinicians.
Experience from elsewhere suggests that home mobile health monitoring can bring faster and better clinical outcomes.
The NHS backed system, Florence, allows patients to do their own tests at home, then text the results free of charge to Florence. The Florence system will send back suggestions about adjusting medicine or coming into the surgery. The system can also text reminders, advice and encouragement to patients as required.
Shona Burge is the Florence Development Officer for Tayside. "We're not first in the field with this, but that's good, because we can learn from the experience of others. People in the Western Isles, Lanarkshire and Lothian and in 70 healthcare organisations across the UK are already using this system.
"It's easy to use, because just about everyone can text. You don't need a smartphone ... the most basic mobile phone will do. It's early days here, but elsewhere Florence has proved popular. It saves patients visiting their surgery, spending money on bus fares or parking ... and it also frees up clinicians to see the people who have more urgent needs."
Florence has been evaluated in a research study by healthcare academics drawn from the Universities of the West of Scotland, Strathclyde and elsewhere, which concluded,
"The majority of patients find the service easy to use, reassuring, and reducing the number of contacts they had with their doctor. The results also show that staff did notice a reduction in consultation time, highlighting the potential of the system to save time; the majority viewed it as a support to existing approaches aimed at the management of long-term conditions."
Shona Burge added,
“Florence helps to give people more confidence when living with a long term condition. Frequent short messages help you feel more in control of your own healthcare.”
The first GP practice in Tayside to use Florence will be Edzell Health Centre, serving the village and the Angus Glens, where patients may have to travel long distances in difficult conditions to reach the surgery.
Ms Burge stressed,
“Florence is not an emergency service. If people need urgent medical assistance they should contact their GP or NHS24. And of course people using Florence will still see their doctors or other health professionals whenever required.”
The Florence project has been funded by the Scottish Government and is shared between NHS Tayside and Dundee, Perth & Kinross and Angus health & social care partnerships. The project is very much in line with the Scottish Government report published this week and entitled "The Modern Outpatient" which sets out the need for more home health monitoring and the creative use of technology to enhance care and save resource.
Shona Burge said, "There has been lots of interest from healthcare professionals in using Florence. It can be used for many things, for example helping women to stop smoking and stay smoke free during pregnancy. But we are taking this step by step. Eventually we hope GPs and clinics all over Tayside will use Florence, and patients will benefit."
1 For more information call Jimmy Black on 01382 305702 (9- 4), or on 07722 881302, or see below.
2 Find out more about Florence at http://www.simple.uk.net/
3 Research study by Cund A, Birch-Jones JL, Kay M and Connolly P (2015) ‘Self-management: keeping it simple with “Flo”’, Nursing: Research and Reviews 5
4 Figure of 70 social care and health organisations (and also 12,000 patients registered) from https://www.getflorence.co.uk/the-concept/
5 Issued in Scottish Digital Health & Care Week https://sctt.org.uk/scottish-digital-health-care-week-2016/