Heart failure patients helped to stay safe through video consultations

Community heart failure nurses on the Isle of Wight are supporting patients through video consultation technologies such as Attend Anywhere.

The technology enables vulnerable patients to access healthcare services without them having to leave their homes.

Georgina Newnham, Heart Failure Nurse Specialist based at St. Mary’s Hospital said ‘using technology in this way has been beneficial for patients, their families and the healthcare professionals looking after them.’

Georgina said:

“The very real threat of Covid-19 has resulted in many heart-failure services in the UK melting away.

“However, here on the Island we have looked at how we can continue to support our patients, who are vulnerable, and technology is enabling us to do just that.

“We have prioritised the most symptomatic patients; those with worsening symptoms or who may be at risk of needing to come to hospital and we are using Telehealth which involves patients linking themselves up to a piece of kit which enables us to monitor their vital observations such as blood pressure and oxygen levels and adjust medications accordingly.

“As clinicians we are having to change our practice quickly which has been a challenge.

“However, this technology means we can offer a high quality, effective service by remote monitoring and video calls and that has not only improved our patients’ symptoms and maintained that support and reassurance, but also prevented hospitalisation.”

Two patients being cared for using the technology have shared their experiences:

Alan aged 53, who was discharged from Portsmouth Hospital and now under the care of the Heart Failure team on the Isle of Wight.

He is being monitored through the use of video technology in regards to his weight, blood pressure, and heart rate through adjustment of his medications – all done remotely.

Alan said:

“For a scary episode in my life, being able to see the person you are speaking to from home has helped with my confidence and reassured me that I am going in the right direction.”

On Alan, Georgina added:

“Whilst we have seen Alan on 3 occasion’s for blood tests, without this technology we would have had to see him physically on 6 occasions.”

David (64) has heart and lung disease and was referred to the Heart Failure service at St. Mary’s Hospital having presented to the Emergency Department with shortness of breath.

Speaking about his experience, David said:

“I think this has been great; I have avoided a long stay in hospital and have been closely monitored. Georgina has been very supportive and I know more now about my heart and why it’s important to keep a watchful eye on my weight with regards to my heart condition. I feel better than I have done for a long time.”

On David, Georgina said:

“We have been looking after David in his own home by using Telehealth to keep a close eye on his weight, oxygen levels and temperature and adjust his medication without him having to stay in hospital.”

Patients who still need to attend appointments for urgent blood tests, electrocardiograms (ECG) and chest examinations are managed safely by the team at the hospital and in the community.