Milton Keynes launches advanced telehealth service to improve care for people with COPD

Whitley Bridge 15 June 2007Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Milton Keynes Community Alarm Service have teamed up with Tunstall to launch a pioneering telehealth initiative to reduce avoidable hospital admissions, and enable people to better manage long-term conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at home.

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Milton Keynes has a high prevalence of COPD in its local population, costing the PCT over GBP 450.000 a year to treat emergency admissions. Since launching the telehealth service, 26 hospital admissions have been prevented in just four months, reducing the burden on acute, primary and community sectors.

Genesis monitors from Tunstall were provided to patients with COPD to support a more pro-active and preventative model of care. The monitor lets patients measure their own vital signs such as heart rate, weight, blood pressure and oxygen levels, and also asks a range of clinical questions to further determine a patient's condition.

As a result, if patients with COPD experience a change in their health status, pro-active medical intervention can be taken at an early stage. Clinical results are monitored by Milton Keynes Community Alarm Service's telecare team and nursing staff are notified if assistance is required, ensuring early intervention and avoiding hospital admission.

A key benefit of the initiative is educating users to be more aware of their own symptom's and to pro-actively manage them, helping to reduce some of the burden on health care providers.

Fatima Holt, RGN for the District Nurse team within Milton Keynes PCT, stated: "The telehealth pilot is a revolution in care for my COPD patients. Historically these types of patients presented themselves to us in very acute stages of their care. It was not uncommon for them to begin feeling ill, allow this to develop for 3 or 4 days then contact us when they were in a very serious condition. In the majority of these cases we had to admit these patients into hospital."

"We have now transformed this situation and because of the telehealth monitors we are able to see the start of an exacerbation in the early stages and take appropriate pro-active care. I am convinced we need to roll this out into all our chronic disease areas", Fatima Holt concluded.

Established in the United Kingdom in 1957, Tunstall is a provider of telecare and telehealth solutions. Operating in 30 countries and employing over 1000 people, Tunstall supports 2,5 million people around the world. Tunstall's philosophy is simple: to protect, support and care for people by providing health care technology and services that enable anyone requiring support and reassurance, such as older people or those with long term needs, to lead an independent life.


Leslie Versweyveld

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