Hi-tech way to send COPD patients home safely

When respiratory consultant Dr Nawar Bakerly sends patients home with a tablet in future, it won’t be pills in a bottle but a tablet computer.

He’s working with Dr Stuart Watsonand colleague Prawin Samraj on an innovative project funded by Manchester Academy for Healthcare Scientist Education (MAHSE) for patients who have come into hospital because of a flare-up in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious lung condition.

Salford Royal’s COPD Assessment and Support Team (CAST) has developed an early supported discharge scheme to allow patients to return home once their condition has stabilised, increasing their comfort and reducing the strain on hospital bed availability. But clinical staff still need to keep a close eye on them – and that’s where the new device comes in. Patients will be able to take daily readings of their own blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, heart rate and temperature in their own home with a small and simple monitor that automatically sends the information back to the clinical team in Salford Royal. The system also includes a touchscreen questionnaire on how they’re feeling and a video link to the CAST team – their responses and the data will allow the CAST team to monitor progress and advise on changes in medication or the need for further hospital appointments if required.

Stuart added: “The CAST team already uses telemonitoring in its early supported discharge scheme, helping to avoid readmissions to hospital. In this project we’re aiming to produce a telehealth system that better meets their and their patients’ needs, while greatly reducing running costs in comparison to existing systems.”

The device will be tested in a clinical trial this spring and, if successful, could then be adapted for other clinical areas.