Northern Ireland

Poots launches £18m Telemonitoring NI service

A hi-tech scheme which will enable more patients to monitor their health in their own homes has been launched by the health minister.

It combines technology and services so that patients with chronic diseases can test their vital signs daily.

The service will now be rolled out to 3,500 patients across Northern Ireland each year for a period of six years.

Edwin Poots said it showed how the health service could deliver a better service by using modern technology.

The Department of Health provided £18m of funding.

The newly named Centre for Connected Health and Social Care (CCHSC), which is part of the Public Health Agency (PHA) worked in partnership with business consortium TF3 to establish the Telemonitoring NI service.

Vital signs

The service is now being delivered by the TF3 consortium in partnership with the Health and Social Care Trusts.

Remote telemonitoring enables patients with chronic diseases to test their vital signs such as pulse, blood pressure, body weight, temperature, blood glucose and oxygen levels at home on a daily basis.

Larne pensioner Michael Howard who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) said the scheme changed his life.

Mr Howard, 71, who has emphysema - a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs that primarily causes shortness of breath - monitors his vital signs using the new technology every weekday morning.

The information is monitored centrally and if readings show signs of deterioration to an unacceptable level, Mr Howard's local health care professional is alerted.

'Checked out'

"Taking my readings is such a simple process but one that gives me huge benefits as it is an early warning system to me and also for the specialist nurses in charge of my care," he said.

"Without the remote telemonitoring I would be running back and forward to the GPs surgery all the time to have things checked out.

"The telemonitoring is not only reassuring for me, it also gives me more control over managing my own condition and as a result I have less upheaval in my life."

Mr Poots said chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and COPD affect around three quarters of people over the age of 75.

"This is the generation for whom transport and mobility pose the biggest problems," he said.

"The Telemonitoring NI service will allow thousands to monitor their vital signs without having to leave their own homes.

"It means that patients are able to understand and manage their condition better. Many say it has improved their confidence and given them peace of mind.

"Telemonitoring NI is an excellent example of how the Health Service can innovate using modern technology to deliver a better service for our patients."

Patients seeking further information about the new telemonitoring service should contact their health care professional.

Chronic disease in Northern Ireland affects 75% of people over 75 and around 72% of acute bed days and 69% of health and social care spend is related to chronic disease.

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