People in Leicester experiencing an irregular heart rhythm are set to benefit from virtual monitoring thanks to a new innovation.
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has become one of the first healthcare organisations in the UK to create a remote monitoring ward for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).
The revolutionary scheme, which has been awarded £274,000 funding from NHS England’s Transformation Directorate – formerly NHSX – is being run in association with health technology specialist, Dignio, and will provide 120 virtual beds.
Atrial fibrillation patients admitted with fast heart rates would normally spend two or more days in hospital with close monitoring to assess their response to treatment.
But, with the new ‘connected care’ solution, suitable patients can now stay in their homes.
A pilot scheme has already seen patients given special equipment to monitor their blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels, as well as a device that produces an electrocardiogram (ECG) that gives detailed assessment of their heart rhythm.
Important readings and symptoms are captured via the My Dignio app, which allows patient data to be automatically and securely transmitted to the hospital, where it can be viewed by clinicians remotely.
AF is a common heart rhythm disturbance where parts of the heart ‘misfire’, causing the heart to beat irregularly and often more quickly.
Patients with the condition can have dizzy spells, palpitations, and shortness of breath.
AF affects 1-2% of the general population, or one in 10 people over the age of 70, and increases the risk of stroke by five times.
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has taken part in international research into AF treatments and recently participated in a study which pioneered a concept of early treatment for AF patients, which was specifically designed to prevent strokes.
Professor Andre Ng, a consultant cardiologist and electrophysiologist at the trust, and a professor of cardiac electrophysiology and head of the cardiovascular sciences department at the University of Leicester, said: “This is a glimpse into the future of care for patients with atrial fibrillation.
“This new service gives patients the opportunity to be managed and recuperate in their own homes while their heart rhythm settles back to normal, but with the peace of mind that they’re still being monitored by specialist clinicians.”
He added: “We’ve been running the pilot for six weeks and we have already received great feedback from the patients treated and have successfully managed patients with reduced hospital stay and avoided admission/readmissions.”
Ewa Truchanowic, Dignio managing director, added: “Our virtual ward solution is flexible enough to provide bespoke monitoring for a broad range of conditions, including AF.
“Our technology is helping to accelerate the world’s transition to connected care.”