NHS Lothian lets patients monitor heart condition via TV

HEART patients in the Lothians will be able to monitor their condition through their television thanks to a pioneering a new project.

NHS Lothian has teamed up with electronic giants Philips to develop the system which means cardiac patients – some of whom have limited mobility – will be able to keep on top of their own illness using nothing but a remote control.

Those taking part in the project will be given a special set-top box which can connect to a range of devices, such as monitors which clip onto a patient's finger.

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And like other "e-health" initiatives across the area, the patient's GP or consultant is able to access results and intervene if necessary thanks to an automatic feed straight to their computer.

NHS bosses believe this represents a way of bringing technology to elderly people who may not be computer literate but are comfortable using their television.

Martin Egan, director of eHealth for the health board, told the Evening News: "NHS Lothian is at the forefront of a range of telehealth initiatives allowing patients more control in managing their own healthcare and the heart manual is another example of our staff delivering innovative programmes that bring real benefits for patients.

"Investing in the latest technology means patients can monitor their conditions more conveniently from their own homes, as well as providing additional reassurance."

The patient is also handed a list of targets – such as exercise routines, activities and diets – which also help to build an up-to-date picture of their health.

The concept isn't new in itself, but thanks to digital televisions the process can now be carried out without the need for a PC or laptop.

Other successful projects include one in West Lothian in which chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients were hooked up with a mini-home computer which allowed them to take blood pressure and sugar level tests.

Louise Taylor, heart manual lead for NHS Lothian, added: "None of our team is an IT specialist and none of the team at Philips is a cardiac specialist, so it has been a complete learning curve for us all."

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Another motivation for the health board to extend the service is the growing number of elderly people predicted to be around in years to come.

It is estimated that the number of over-65s will double by 2050, with a significant jump in the number of over-80s.

This will increase the number of cardiac patients by default, and doctors want to help patients help themselves, rather than have a trek to hospital be the only option.

'This has really changed my life'

ADVANCES in technology helped 50-year-old Raymond Bowes manage his health in ways he could never have expected.

He was sceptical when his GP told him a small home computer could revolutionise his life and help manage his own health.

Now a year on, the Blackburn man, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a convert.

The father-of-four and former steel foundry worker has battled the illness for five years, and since using the small machine he's reversed the trend of declining health and reduced his visits to the GP.

He takes an interactive questionnaire every day, with the option of blood and sugar levels testing.

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He said: "This has really changed my life. When you have chronic lung disease there is a very fine line between being well and unwell."