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News: Home Health Monitoring – Accelerating the Pace in Tayside

A galaxy of experts came together at Ninewells Hospital on May 8th to promote the national scale up of home and mobile health monitoring (HMHM). Designed to interest and inform by the HMHM team from Angus Health & Social Care Partnership, the morning event included leading Scottish Government speakers.

Angus HSCP Chief Officer Vicky Irons and digital leader Margaret Whoriskey

First up was Dr Margaret Whoriskey, Head of Technology Enabled Care & Digital Healthcare Innovation at the Scottish Government, who leads the charge to new digital methods in healthcare and is a finalist in the digital leader of the Year Awards. 

Margaret’s message was that we are now at the point where the challenge is no longer about proving the value of technology enabled care: rather it is achieving widespread adoption so that technology underpins the redesign of services and pathways and is ‘business as usual’.

Next was Professor Brian McKinstry, who emphasized the value of people monitoring their own blood pressure at home in partnership with clinicians. He told the event that the simple text based monitoring system known as Florence had gained widespread acceptance amongst GPs in Lothian, where they had overcome one of the barriers to success; getting Florence to integrate with existing systems has not been straightforward.

Dr Helen Alexander has been compiling evidence on 12 Home and Mobile Health Monitoring pilots across Scotland, testing that against strict criteria. She spoke warmly of the Tayside project, which in only just over two years has recruited 448 people to the HMHM programme. She said there was evidence that information gathered at home through Florence added value when people met their clinicians face to face. The clinical time released by Florence could be used to provide treatment to more patients, and people were able to control their conditions better by using Florence. Dr Alexander’s recommendation was that Tayside should continue to scale up and spread remote monitoring.

Dr Helen Alexander

Shona Burge of the Angus HMHM team demonstrated the use of Florence, showing how patients text their blood pressure and other results into the Florence system, and receive text advice, reminders and encouragement in return.

While the Florence system is at the heart of the current national campaign to scale up blood pressure, Tayside clinicians are also involved in other digital initiatives. Dr Scott Cunningham described the very successful My Diabetes My Way programme which enables people with diabetes to track their condition and communicate with clinicians in a range of ways. Jacqueline Walker spoke of using the Healthcall system in Dietetics, which offers an alternative to Florence and some extra features.

The event also heard from Morag Hearty, National Strategic Lead, who described how Lanarkshire has increased the use of HMHM and emphasized the benefits of the technique.

Participants split into groups and engaged in some lively discussion. Some discussed how they could use HMHM in their own disciplines; another group noted that the next generation of clinicians is already being trained in digital techniques and posed the question … how can we enable the existing workforce to be confident in these new ways of working?

Dr Drew Walker, Director of Public Health

Dr Drew Walker, Tayside’s Director of Public Health, was the final speaker. He said, “Remote monitoring already makes a valuable contribution to the delivery of health and social care and the empowering of people in Tayside.

“Today we heard about what has already been achieved, but the potential is far greater than that. Remote monitoring is just one of a range of digital approaches which can improve health, and enhance health and social care.

“There is now a real need to push that much harder and further so that its full potential to improve health and reduce health inequalities can be realised.

The event was chaired by Vicky Irons, Chief Officer of Angus Health & Social Care Partnership, and later by Sally Wilson, Locality Integration Improvement Manager at Angus HSCP.