First patient benefits from new heart project

Pictured: Kelly Henshall was recruited to the new initiative after being fitted with a cardiac resynchronisation Therapy-Defibrillator (CRT-D) device

The first patient to benefit from a £1.2 million pilot project at University Hospitals of North Midlands is using new technology to help better care for themselves at home and prevent a re-admission into hospital.

The scheme, called Smart with your heart – listening to patients with heart failure, helps to support people with chronic long term heart failure to manage their condition at home and reduce the number of people who need to return to hospital.

UHNM is working in partnership Midlands Partnership NHS foundation Trust and three digital companies, using their new, commercially available technology Flo, Recap Health and i-Navigator.

The Heart Failure team is looking to recruit 300 heart failure patients to use the digital services to help them understand and manage their own condition with confidence.

Kelly Henshall, of Sandyford, was recruited to the new initiative after being fitted with a cardiac resynchronisation Therapy-Defibrillator (CRT-D) device on 4 July. This acts as a pacemaker and simulates the hearts chambers to pump at the same time.

The 40-year-old mum and step-mum, said: "I hadn't been feeling well for a while and was coughing constantly. I had an x-ray which showed I had an enlarged heart and my ECG was a little dodgy so I was referred to the Royal Stoke for further tests and it was following these I was diagnosed with heart failure. By this point my breathlessness had reached a whole new level and I was referred to the SHINE clinic at Royal Stoke."

Kelly, who works in Government and regulatory contract management, said it was following a procedure to be fitted with a CDT-D device she was approached to take part in the pilot.

She has exclusive access to an online health library called Recap which has information tailored to her need and condition which can help improve her own self-care behaviours. For example Kelly has been able to access videos offering advice and tips about she can manage her condition going forward.

"I have already fed back about some of the information available on my personal homepage and I am glad to be able to do something and give back to hopefully benefit other heart failure patients in the future," she said.

Kelly is also using Florence, a text messaging service which enables patients to respond to messages asking how they are feeling compared to their last text message - same, better or worse, or ask how they are against a symptom checker that was developed between UHNM heart failure team and national charity The Pumping Marvellous Foundation. These responses are recorded by a telehealth co-ordinator and escalated to a clinician should they need to be.

"I have received messages offering advice and support and had to have a call back from someone on just one occasion. Once I talked through how I was feeling I was provided with reassurance and ultimately it meant I didn't need to go back into hospital for a check-up," she said.

"So far, the technology is working. I'm still on the recovery path but using Florence and the Recap Health means I don't have to keep going back to hospital and I feel that there is help and support should I need it."

Dr Dargoi Satchi, UHNM Consultant Cardiologist, said: "We are delighted to have our first patients benefitting from our pilot project which we hope will improve people's lives and empower and inform them to manage their health better.

"Working with our digital partners as well as our health partners across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent we are able to support patients through faster access to treatment before they become unwell and need hospital care.

"We already have a strong reputation for caring for heart failure patients and we hope following the success of this project, our expertise will eventually mean patients nationwide will benefit through the use of this pioneering technology and our work here in Stoke-on-Trent."