Dr Donal Bailey
Patients with heart failure in Ireland are being monitored remotely by healthcare specialists in their own homes to deliver a more cost-effective and reassuring level of care.
A digital healthcare programme has been implemented in Ireland to better manage patients with serious heart conditions in their homes and help reduce hospital admissions.
It uses smart technology to remotely monitor patients with heart failure (HF) and can alert healthcare professionals (HCPs).
Monitoring patients with heart failure
Remote care for HF patients is being offered through Care-Connect, a joint venue between primary care services provider Centric Health and private health insurer Irish Life Health.
To better support patients with complex chronic diseases, the digital-first option was favoured over a physical centre for people with HF.
Care-Connect CEO, Dr Donal Bailey, says: “It’s about staying digitally connected to patients — wherever they are — to collect information, so we can see who is doing well and not so well as early and equitably as possible.”
Smart technology for prompt intervention
Following discussions with healthcare giant Roche, HF patients were given smartphones, smart blood pressure monitors and weighing scales, aiming to keep the programme simple and not to ‘hospitalise the home.’
Patients transmit weight, heart rate and blood pressure data. If it shows concerning changes, a GP nurse makes contact for a more detailed phone or video call consultation.
Early engagement allows HCPs to act promptly on symptom changes to prevent the condition from deteriorating, often with tweaks to medication. Bailey explains: “The crux of process is making sure that when people start to feel unwell, we intervene as soon as possible and determine what to do next.”
With HF, there are ‘critical windows’
where the condition can get worse
and result in hospital admission.
Giving HF patients reassurance
Bailey says patients feel reassured and less anxious and, over time, gain the confidence to self-manage and “take more power back over their condition.” He insists: “That is one of the big successes of this model of care.”
With HF, there are ‘critical windows’ where the condition can get worse and result in hospital admission. “With our model, we are reducing admissions because we are intervening earlier,” he adds. “If we keep patients out of hospital, those beds are available for someone else. We are also reducing the workload on cardiologists, meaning they can spend time with the most complex patients.”
Economically beneficial model
The model, launched this year following a research phase, is constantly evaluated by Care-Connect via the team’s health economist and liaison with Roche. “Aside from patient benefits and capacity creation, evidence suggests there is an overall health economic benefit,” concludes Bailey.