COPD patients remotely monitored at home in rural Scotland

28 February 2014

Tunstall Healthcare has partnered with Putting you First to implement a remote monitoring service for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the Annan area of Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. 

The Annan Remote Monitoring (ARM) 'test of change' project is being introduced as part of the ‘Putting You First’ five-year change programme, implemented as a partnership approach between the NHS, local councils and the independent sector, to transform care delivery in the region. 

The ARM project will involve patients with COPD who are currently registered with two local GP practices and would benefit from remote monitoring to improve self-management and potentially reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.

Dumfries and Galloway is one of the most rural areas of Scotland and has 25% of older residents living in remote locations where access to emergency services can be impeded. Current estimates indicate that approximately 23,000 people over the age of 65 are living with at least one long-term condition, with the recorded episodes of COPD in the area rising by almost 50% from 2007 to 2013.

Dr David Byers, local GP and ARM 'test of change' project leader based at Annan South Greencroft Surgery, said: “This is an exciting test of change and it will be interesting to see how the use of this technology helps to improve the quality of life of our COPD patients.”

Dr Fergus Donachie, a GP based at Annan North Greencroft Surgery, added, “We are still in the early stages but patients are finding the equipment simple to use. We hope we will be able to treat symptoms earlier and prevent patients needing to be admitted to hospital, as well as enabling patients to better manage their own condition.”

COPD patients recommended for the service are those who have experienced two or more exacerbations within the last year which have led to a hospital admission. Each patient will be provided with Tunstall’s mymedic system, which supports integrated and fully-managed patient-centred care at home.

People taking part in the test are provided with electronic monitoring devices which relay blood pressure and temperature readings to a response centre where specialist staff can check for any early signs of deterioration in their condition.  If there are any signs that someone would benefit from medical intervention, the response centre staff alert the appropriate nurse or doctor so they can take action quickly. 

By widening the choice of services available, the GP-led programme hopes to transform the way patients living with COPD manage their condition, which in turn can improve their quality of life by enabling them to live more independently in their own homes. In implementing a remote monitoring service, patients are becoming more aware of how their behaviour affects their condition, and adjusting it accordingly to improve health outcomes.

The Annan Remote Monitoring project programme was implemented following previous work with heart failure patients to determine the most appropriate model of care. It will initially run for twelve months, after which the success of the test will be evaluated and a decision made as to whether the service will be extended further.

David Cockayne, Managed Services Director for Tunstall said: “Putting You First is demonstrating its commitment to providing sustainable, high quality care using the latest advancements in treatments and technologies, and supporting people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Our consultants have been very busy ensuring processes, stakeholder engagement and training are in place and early feedback has been really positive, with clinical teams enthusiastic about offering their patients a more local model of monitoring.”


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