Devices that monitor blood pressure, glucose levels and weight, and relay that data in real-time to a doctor, are being used in a North East trial for the first time.
Murray PHN is using technology from Propell for the pilot, delivered in collaboration with the Upper Hume and Central Hume primary care partnerships.
The iHealth devices send readings via Bluetooth to the HealthBeats app on the patient's phone, which are then seen online by a clinician.
These iHealth devices are wireless monitors for blood pressure, glucose etc that send readings to an app. They are being used in a @MurrayPHN trial where clinicians will monitor the data in real-time. Beechworth Surgery were trained today - though nerves swayed some results! pic.twitter.com/8nGFyr24WK— Ellen Ebsary (@EEbsary) 10 July 2019
About 200 participants in the trial will be given the option to buy the equipment at the end of the six months and continue self-monitoring.
Northeast Health Wangaratta, Albury Wodonga Health, and most major outlying services are taking part and will be finding eligible patients who have been admitted to hospital recently.
Upper Hume PCP project co-ordinator Glenda Chapman said the ultimate goal was to avoid hospital admissions for people with diabetes, heart failure, lung disease and other chronic conditions.
"For people with heart failure for example, they build up a lot of fluid and need to weigh themselves every morning," she said.
"All they have to do is jump on the scale and the result is blue-toothed to the phone and sent off to the heath service.
"If they were six kilograms over their usual weight, it would send an alert through and the clinician would ring up to discuss management.
"They will have improved understanding of their health and learn a routine around monitoring symptoms."
Propell chief executive Craig Simmonds said eight years ago, iHealth created the world's first wireless blood pressure monitor.
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"Their devices are now in pharmacies all over the country," he said.
Ms Chapman is looking for Border GPs who might be interested in the trial, and said following its completion there might be more of the devices available.
"The provider is hoping to get this technology into some of the chemists locally," she said.
"In mid-August we'll be doing more training with staff and hopefully within a couple weeks after that, clinicians should be able to sign people up," she said.
Staff at Beechworth Surgery took part in preliminary training on Wednesday.
Complex care co-ordinator Caroline Ashcroft said the iHealth devices would cut out patients having to record their readings in a paper diary, but that they also might be useful for the people who aren't yet regularly monitoring their levels.
Practice manager John McColl said his staff were looking forward to the trial.
"We think this is the future and this is getting a taste of it - we want to see how it can work with our patients," he said.
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