Heart app aims to cut NHS waiting lists in Wales

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Media caption,
Evan Dobson is taking part in a 12-week trial of the app to monitor his heart condition

Heart patients are taking part in a trial of a new app that monitors them via their mobile phone.

The app was produced by developers Huma and Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board, which is trialling it with Betsi Cadwaladr health board.

The app lets cardiac patients have video consultations from home, avoiding unnecessary hospital visits.

The Welsh government-funded pilot could mean problems with patients' health are picked up more quickly.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board serves patients in Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf, and Betsi Cadwaladr covers the whole of north Wales.

As part of the trial, patients will receive equipment to take readings, including a blood pressure cuff, weighing scales and a pulse oximeter.

Cardiology specialists will be able to remotely monitor each patient's symptoms and progress, and conduct video consultations to address any concerns. If needed, hospital visits can be arranged for further treatment and consultation.

Image caption,
Nurse Viki Jenkins says the pandemic has spurred on advances in health technology

Heart failure advanced nurse practitioner Viki Jenkins said: "We want to build on the advances made in digital technology since the beginning of the pandemic, and this is an extension of that, but we need to understand how easy or difficult it is for people to use the application, which is what this pilot is all about.

"This is a great opportunity to explore what health services are going to look like in the future - Covid-19 has shown us we have to embrace innovation like this.

"Patients get the interventions they need sooner. It's quick and easy for me to use... it prevents people having to come into a hospital environment."

'Hospital's the last place I want to be'

Image caption,
Cardiac patient Evan Dobson is happy to be monitored from home instead of at a hospital

Patient Evan Dobson, 69, a retired photographer from Bala, Gwynedd, who had a heart attack a few years ago, is taking part in a 12-week trial of the app.

"I was a bit sceptical of the app itself, but no problem - I think it's the most valuable app I've got on my phone at the moment.

"There's someone there monitoring all the time, whereas before I would be sent to hospital and that's the last place I want to be."

The pilot is one of five projects to be awarded funding as part of the £150,000 Digital Solutions Fund, looking at new and revolutionary ways to use technology in healthcare.

Helen Northmore, head of digital and artificial intelligence at Life Sciences Hub Wales, said the app was an example of how technology will play an increasingly important role in patient care.

"The traditional pathway is for cardiac patients to regularly attend a hospital appointment and have these readings taken," she said.

"This application will free up clinicians' time so they can be there for patients who need them more urgently, and it also saves the patient from having to travel and wait at the hospital to be seen."