West Lancashire residents text their way to better health thanks to FLO

West Lancashire residents text their way to better health thanks to FLO

HEALTH partners across West Lancashire are helping patients manage their long-term health conditions, thanks to a newly launched pilot Telehealth System called FLO.

FLONamed after Florence Nightingale, FLO sends patients reminders and health advice tailored to their own specific needs, directly by SMS (text messages).  FLO works by asking patients to send in readings such as their weight, blood pressure, pulse and oxygen saturation levels from their own mobile phone. These readings are then monitored by the specialist heart failure team and the local community matrons and are responded to depending on the patient’s needs.

The pilot, launched collaboratively by NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Liverpool Community Health and Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, will improve how care is delivered and to help citizens suffering with heart failure, improve their overall health and wellbeing, both day to day and importantly long-term.

The project is being led by NHS West Lancashire CCG. Mike Maguire, chief officer at the CCG said:

“As local commissioners, we design services based around the needs of our local community.  Many people are living with long-term health conditions. Patients have told us that they would like to play more of a role in their own health and FLO will allow them to manage their own conditions at home, as well as seeking expert health advice when needed. It will also mean they can be treated in the community without the need to be in hospital.

“Like all CCGs, we continue to face financial challenges which is where innovation and use of technology is absolutely crucial.  Technology will therefore be key to improving health care in the future and FLO is a strong example of how it can be used to support patients daily. This project forms part of our digital health project, which will generate more innovative developments in the coming years”.

The FLO pilot initially supported patients with heart failure but it will soon extend to patients living with respiratory conditions, including Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Mike Maguire continues:

“Already at this stage, the comments from heart failure patients have been overwhelmingly positive, not only do they feel more in control and confident to manage their own care at home, but they also enjoy the reassurance that FLO offers them”.

An 85-year-old local West Lancashire resident (who prefers not to be named), has been using FLO recently and said:

“I had noticed my weight creeping up but put it down to too many boiled potatoes.  FLO noticed the information it was recording.

“If it wasn’t for FLO alerting both me and the local community matron team, I would not have realised my health was deteriorating and connected the weight gain with feeling a little unwell.   After further support, I am now back to enjoying my normal day to day life.  FLO gives me peace of mind that I am being monitored and allows me to have more control over my health and life”.

Brian Kelly, local community matron working in West Lancashire, attended to the patient. He says:

“When I first met the elderly gentleman, I identified straight away that he needed immediate intervention.  He had noticed his slippers getting tighter but had not realised his feet were swollen, which I pointed out to him.

“The beauty of FLO is that it alerted us to the issue of his weight gain at an early stage, which quite likely would have gone unnoticed and possibly led to an admission to hospital, which could have been avoided.  While sitting next to the patient on his couch at home, we then worked closely over the phone with a cardiac specialist nurse Nicky Trotter, who had not seen the patient before, and increased his medication which did the trick.  This was a good example of collaborative working for the benefit of the patient and shows how remote monitoring can make a positive difference, and use everyone’s time efficiently”.

The pilot is supported by the Innovation Agency for the North-West Coast.