Transforming the patient experience with telehealth in Europe

Scotland Press Release

Thursday 10 September 2015

Jet-setting businessman retains wanderlust thanks to innovative text support

A jet-setting businessman, diagnosed with heart failure a year ago, has been able to continue his world travels – thanks to a text messaging system linking him to specialist support in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Graham Murray from Lanark heads up an international IT trouble-shooting operation, serving major clients in Europe, America and Asia.

Yet the globe-trotting grandfather’s schedule belies a health setback that would have otherwise have left him grounded – save for the innovative telehealth system.

“Life, between family and work, is extremely busy – and I love every aspect of it,” explained Graham, 57, who is due to get married to his Vietnamese fiancé, Mai, later this year. “Last year, however, whilst working in England I felt like I was coming down with heavy cold, with symptoms including breathing difficulty.”

As symptoms worsened, and after hospital checks, it was discovered Graham had fluid on his lungs. “The root cause was a narrowing of the arteries to the heart which meant it wasn’t pumping blood as effectively as it should,” Graham continued.

“I was diagnosed as having heart failure – but when I learned I wasn’t going to die the next day I just wanted to crack on with things.”

Graham’s condition has been managed with medication. And, with the additional text messaging support, he’s been able to continue his intrepid lifestyle. The text system is known as Florence and can help patients, like Graham, who have had hospital treatment for heart failure.

Patients, who can be of any age over 16 years, are equipped and taught how to self-monitor details such as weight and blood pressure.  The patient then texts the details to an automated system which has been programmed by specialist nurses with the patient’s specific health details.

Florence replies with advice and information like medication reminders, all based on the latest readings.

Crucially, the system can identify flare ups at the earliest stage. If any anomalies are detected with the readings, like a rise or drop in blood pressure for example, an automated alert is sent to the patient. A specialist nurse is also alerted – allowing them to respond to offer advice or help by phone, text or arrange medical assistance as necessary.

The innovative scheme is part of the European-wide initiative United4Health, which is geared to using new technology to improve healthcare. NHS Lanarkshire along with North and South Lanarkshire Council are key partners.

Patient safety is paramount and traditional, clinical care is available as required. In Graham’s case, he receives periodical home visits from heart failure nurse Julie Brown, who is based at Wishaw General Hospital.

The text system supplements these supports and mean patients like Graham aren’t always tied to being in Lanarkshire for routine checks.

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