Heart patients in the Lothians to monitor their condition using television

NHS Lothian lets patients monitor heart condition via TV

Published Date: 27 April 2010
By ADAM MORRIS

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

You can read this article in full in the Evening News

Hospitals in England and Wales plan to cut medical and nursing staff to save cash

From The Sunday Times
April 25, 2010

Secret NHS cuts to axe thousands of medics

Hospitals across England are planning to shed at least 650 doctors and 2,000 nurses under new cost-cutting plans

Burnham claims savings can be made just by cutting waste

Burnham claims savings can be made just by cutting waste

Jonathan Oliver

HUNDREDS of doctors and thousands of nurses will lose their jobs over the next five years under secret cost-cutting plans.

The cuts to clinical staff, exposed in documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, undermine Labour’s election pledge to protect services.

Half of all hospitals that responded to the FoI requests said they were planning to cut the number of doctors and nurses. Two-thirds also said they would cut the number of hospital beds.

Ministers have always insisted that the planned efficiency savings could be achieved by cutting waste and bureaucracy alone.

Click the link to read more about NHS Staff cuts

Australian study finds computers are 'better than doctors' at diagnosing serious childhood infections

April 21, 2010 by Jennifer Trueland

A thermometer. <em>Picture: Jurii</em>

Computers are better than doctors at diagnosing serious bacterial infection – such as meningitis – in young children, according to a study published today.

Children, especially those under five years old, commonly have fever or febrile illness, but it can be difficult to ascertain the cause.

This can be vital because doctors have to be able to tell whether a child is suffering from a minor viral illness, or a serious bacterial infection, such as pneumonia, meningitis or a urinary tract infection.

Getting it wrong and failing to diagnose a serious infection and delaying treatment can be fatal – but diagnosing one where it isn’t there can result in children being prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily.

Researchers in Australia developed a computerised model to distinguish between serious bacterial infections and self-limiting non-bacterial illnesses.

The study included more than 15,000 healthy children aged under five who attended the emergency department of a large children’s hospital with a fever (defined as a body temperature of 38C or more in the previous 24 hours).

Doctors performed the usual clinical evaluation and serious bacterial infections were confirmed or otherwise by using standard tests. The signs and symptoms seen by the physicians were combined in a diagnostic model, which was compared to what actually happened in clinical practice.

The data show that of the seven per cent of children who were later confirmed as having a bacterial infection, only 70-80 per cent were prescribed antibiotics at the initial consultation. Conversely, around a fifth of those who were not subsequently confirmed as having an identified bacterial infection were probably given antibiotics when they shouldn’t have been.

In each infection – urinary tract, pneumonia and bacteraemia (bacteria in the blood) the diagnostic model out-performed or was as good as evaluation by a doctor.

Writing in the BMJ, the authors, including Jonathan Craig of the University of Sydney, point out that almost all (95%) of these children had the appropriate tests and that some doctors routinely delay giving antibiotics until test results are known, so this may help to explain the initial under-treatment. However, about two thirds of children who were not treated were subsequently prescribed antibiotics.

They conclude: “By combining routinely collected clinical information into a statistical model, we have demonstrated that a clinical diagnostic model may improve the care of children presenting with fever who have suspected serious bacterial illness.”

Click the link to read the rest of the article about computers are ‘better than doctors’

Click the link to read the full study in the BMJ about the accuracy of clinical symptoms and signs for the diagnosis of serious bacterial infection

Video conferencing system is improving the care of kidney patients in NHS Highland

Video link to help Highland dialysis patients

Patient and nurse at Caithness General Hospital 's renal unit

The video link allows specialists to review patient care

A video conferencing system has been installed in two hospitals to improve the care of kidney patients in the far north of Scotland.

The link connects the main renal unit at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness with Caithness General Hospital in Wick.

NHS Highland said the initiative should help reduce waiting times and travelling for patients.

Consultant Dr Robert Peel said an increasing number of patients from Caithness required dialysis treatment.

Specialists from Raigmore Hospital will continue to hold monthly clinics at the hospital in Wick to assess patients receiving dialysis treatment.

It should be possible for more outpatients to be seen locally during the monthly clinics
Dr Robert Peel
NHS Highland

But every other month, these reviews will take place via the video link, using mobile units which can be placed alongside the dialysis stations.

The use of the technology means fewer outpatients from the Caithness area will have to make the 200-mile round trip for appointments in Inverness, according to the health board.

It will also allow specialists to see more patients in the available time, NHS Highland said.

Dr Peel, a renal consultant at NHS Highland, said the initiative would help reduce pressure on clinics in Caithness for kidney patients.

“It should be possible for more outpatients to be seen locally during the monthly clinics, with shorter waiting times for appointments,” he said.

A regular live video link will also enable nurses in Wick to discuss patients’ treatment with specialists in Raigmore.

Read more about the live video link.

Medical records database for patients in England has been halted

Upload of NHS care records suspended

by Jane Hughes
Health correspondent, BBC News

Computer keyboard

Summary Care Records are central to the NHS computer upgrade in England

The development of a medical records database for patients in England has been halted in some areas after doctors criticised the speed of the roll-out.

The British Medical Association warned the computer-based summary care records are being set up at “break-neck speed”, sometimes without patients’ knowledge.

In time, data for 50 million patients will be uploaded to a central system.

The Department of Health said the roll-out would be delayed until there was better awareness of the scheme.

The plans to computerise patients’ records in England have raised concerns about security and patient confidentiality.

Doctors have also been unenthusiastic about the technology.

We will want to work with government in future to ensure that the many concerns of patients and doctors are listened to and addressed
Dr Grant Ingrams, BMA

More than 1.25 million patients’ records have already gone onto the database and in December, ministers announced that the process was being speeded up in some areas.

Patients in those areas have been getting letters about the new database, telling them to inform their GP if they want to opt out.

But the BMA wrote to the government warning that it was happening too fast and calling for a suspension.

They said the rushed implementation meant GPs didn’t have time to help patients make an informed choice about whether to opt out.

Ministers said they were surprised by the criticism when there had previously been complaints that the changes had been happening too slowly.

Click the link to read more about summary care records

HIE summit to drive strategy in emerging telehealth sector

As part of a strategy to put the region at the forefront of a potentially lucrative emerging sector, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is to host a high level summit on the future of telehealthcare.HIE logo

The challenges of managing the world’s ageing populations and of moving towards a low carbon economy are driving interest in the means of delivering healthcare from a distance through advances in information and communication technology. Governments around the world are expected to accelerate their use of remote clinical monitoring, supported self treatment and telemedicine in order to deliver an effective service.

To discuss how the region might take a lead in meeting this demand, around 50 delegates have been invited to Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness, on May 5 to contribute ideas on the delivery of telehealthcare in Scotland over the next decade and on building a telehealthcare cluster of international repute.

Dr Steven Dodsworth of HIE’s head of life sciences explained: “This region offers great potential to be a centre of excellence in this sector. We already have an encouraging number of companies developing expertise in this field who are working alongside healthcare professionals and communities to overcome the challenges of healthcare at a distance.

“The Centre for Rural Healthcare in Inverness’ Centre for Health Science is highly regarded and with the Inverness Campus in prospect, we look forward to sharing views with the sector’s leading public and private operators on a future full of opportunity.”

The following day there will be presentations and workshops at the Centre for Health Science on topics such as our changing attitudes to maintaining health and wellbeing  and the use of technology to deal with clinical emergencies in remote places.

Telehealthcare covers a range of services such as supporting elderly patients who wish to remain in their own homes; helping people to take control of long-term health conditions and enabling people in remote locations to consult health professionals with minimum inconvenience.

Harriet Dempster, Highland Council’s director of social work said: “This event will enable representatives from government, health and social care providers and patient groups to discuss ideas with Scottish companies and multinationals and to develop a shared vision. It represents a confident step in putting this region at the forefront of modern health and care delivery promising real benefits for the wellbeing of its residents.”

Medical and Dental Defence Union says poor handover procedures at shift changes pose a risk to patients.

Shift handover risk to patient

Published Date: 10 April 2010

POOR handover procedures in hospitals pose a “significant risk” to patients, doctors’ representatives have claimed.

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland said there were now an increasing number of shift changes, following the launch of the European Working Time Directive, limiting the hours doctors are allowed to work.

It said there were renewed concerns of a breakdown in continuity of care as patients were being repeatedly handed over to different shifts. The union is backing a Royal College of Physicians investigation into the issue and wants doctors to report any incidents.

Click the link to read this article about handover procedures

Is the Solution mobile data capture?

Kelvin Connect are a Scottish Company &  innovative developer of mobile data capture and management systems based on hand-held computers (PDAs) for use by large organisations with a mobile workforce. Our development techniques overcome the complexities of handling structured documents on hand-held computers for both data capture and data access applications.

In General Hospitals, Team Talk has been deployed in many hospitals to enable ‘Hospital at Night’ services to be implemented, enabling fast, efficient and accurate data to be collected at the point of care and this data to be efficiently handed-over to the next shift.

The benefits of a system like this are:

* Complete, mobile IT systems customised for specific disciplines

* No transcription from paper forms

* Clean, validated data collected at the point of care ensures consistently high-quality care

* Reporting time dramatically reduced

* A highly effective mobile front-end to EPR systems

* Safer and more accurate handovers

Click the following link to find out more about Kelvin Connect and mobile data capture

Highlands and Islands Enterprise hold conference on the potential of telehealthcare

Agency claims area is well placed to lead in delivering healthcare from a distance

HIE forum aims to put north at tele-healthcare forefront

By Iain Ramage

Published: 12/04/2010

Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise is to host a summit on the future of “telehealthcare” in a bid to put the region at the forefront of the potentially lucrative emerging sector.

It claims the challenges of an ageing population and a low-carbon economy are key to “delivering healthcare from a distance” through technological advances.

The gathering, at Aldourie Castle by Loch Ness on May 5, will consider how the region could take a lead.

About 50 delegates have been invited to contribute ideas on the delivery of tele-healthcare in Scotland over the next decade.

Steven Dodsworth, HIE’s head of life sciences, said: “This region offers great potential to be a centre of excellence in this sector.

“We already have an encouraging number of companies developing expertise in this field who are working alongside healthcare professionals and communities to overcome the challenges of healthcare at a distance.”

Telehealthcare covers a range of services such as supporting elderly patients who wish to remain in their own homes, helping people to take control of long-term health conditions and enabling people in remote locations to consult health professionals with minimum inconvenience.

Harriet Dempster, Highland Council social work director, said: “This event will enable representatives from government, health and social care providers and patient groups to discuss ideas with Scottish companies and multinationals and to develop a shared vision.”

MPs 'need to be open and honest' over hospital closures

By Nick Triggle
Health reporter, BBC News

Hospital ward

Hospital closures are inevitable, many believe

Politicians are “not being open and honest” about the issue of hospital closures, a coalition of charities and patient groups says.

Jeremy Taylor, head of National Voices, said the parties were happy to talk about the need for savings and moving care into the community.

But he said they were “shying away” from the flip-side – services closing and even whole hospitals shutting down.

All the main parties claimed they had clear policies to tackle the issue.

Mr Taylor said his organisation did not oppose hospital reorganisation and in many cases it can make sense medically.

Read more about hospital closures

Scottish Government launches Patient Portal project to give people access to their records

Patient health records go online

Computer and mouse

The portal will allow patients access to records via the internet

A scheme which gives patients access to their own health records over the internet is being piloted at two GP practices in Ayrshire.

The Patient Portal allows doctors appointments and repeat prescriptions to be booked through a secure website.

It also lets patients access their own test results, and track and monitor blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

If the £175,000 six-month trial is successful, it could be extended across the country.

The Patient Portal is being trialled at Townhead Surgery in Irvine and the Kilwinning Medical Practice.

Click the link to read more about patient records