Telemedicine slashes hospital stays
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Date posted: 12/01/2006
Posted by: Site Administration
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Carlisle Housing Association and the Carlisle and District Primary Care Trust have together managed to cut in half the time patients spend in the hospital by enabling doctors to monitor their condition remotely.

Using the system to manage chronic respiratory diseases, doctors in Carlisle have managed to reduce hospital stays for some patients from 10 days to 5.5 days.

The two institutions desired to both reduce the length of hospital stays for patients and increase the independence of patients by giving them more information about their condition.

The project involves giving telemedicine monitors to patients, thus allowing them to measure their own temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, electrocardiogram and blood pressure. These results are sent via a phone line to a secure server, where they are saved as an electronic patient record, which can then be accessed by doctors or nurses.

The system can monitor diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which currently costs the UK?s NHS about ?818,000,000 per year.

Having the equipment, supplied by Tunstall Group, helps patients feel less anxious about their condition because if readings on the monitor deviate from levels set by the clinician, an alert is sent out to the housing association.

Tunstall said the technology is very easy for patients to use and is used by people ages 35 to 82, with a 94 percent rate of acceptance by patients.

Kay Douglas, senior clinical manager on Carlisle's Intermediate Care Team, said the service is enabling patients to live independently but also enabling doctors to adopt a more preventative approach, which has helped to reduce hospital readmissions.

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