Patients in the north of Staffordshire will benefit from new funding that has been secured to help digital technology change the way they manage their long term conditions.
Patients with long term conditions, such as cardiovascular disease which can affect the heart and blood pressure and those with respiratory conditions that can affect their breathing rate and oxygen levels in their blood, will initially benefit from a £50,000 “national pathfinder project” with funding and support from the Good Things Foundation.
Called the Stoke Pathfinder, it will help patients registered with GPs in both Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.
The funding will help provide training or support for up to 500 patients to use a range of digital technology that is now readily available to help with their health conditions.
Dr Ruth Chambers, Clinical Chair of Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is very welcome news at a time when we are seeing how new technology can alter the way patients with long-term-conditions can change their lives helped by devices that are relatively cheap and very easy to use.
“Wearable and mobile devices are now able to monitor a range of conditions that once required people to go for regular appointments at their GP surgery or even hospital. If you can keep a check on vital signs such as blood pressure or oxygen level in your blood while you are leading your everyday life it means you can make adjustments to what you are doing to help you stay as active and healthy as possible. It can also help you keep in touch remotely with doctors or nurses.”
The funding was announced as Stoke-on-Tent and North Staffordshire CCGs held a Community Conversation event at Stoke City’s Bet365 Stadium on 19 July to showcase a range of apps and digital devices that patients can use.
Tracey Shewan, Director of Nursing for both CCGs, said: “This is really exciting because this type of technology can help transform lives. What will make it work is for us to support and train patients to use the right technology for their circumstances, make sure they really understand the benefits, and then help it become part of their daily routine.
“More and more people are using apps and mobile devices as part of their daily life. The skills you need to use these are directly transferable to digital health technology.”
Patients will be helped to use digital technology through mediums with which they may already be familiar, such as Facebook or Skype.
The Stoke Pathfinder will be developed and taken forward with West Midlands Academic Health Science Network and the Good Things Foundation as well as local partners that include social enterprises, Keele University, the Workers’ Educational Association, GPs and practice teams, Donna Louise Hospice, Diabetes UK, Community Health Voice, University Hospitals of the North Midlands, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and patients.
The pathfinder programme will begin in October and last for 12 months. It is one of only six such projects across the country.