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Heart check telemedicine could cut costs

Checking patient’s heart rhythms over the telephone could save the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) millions of pounds.

A six-month trial has piloted a scheme where clinicians can monitor patient’s heart readings using a handheld ECG device and then send data down a phone line for analysis.

The system was tested in 15 surgeries and two walk-in centres across Cumbria and Lancashire.

Among those patients tested, 82% did not require a hospital visit.

Researchers say the device can help reassure hundreds of people with minor chest pain but also target those in need of further medical assistance.

It is claimed that if the system is used throughout England, at least £46m could be saved every year and 90,000 visits to the emergency ward prevented.

Joe Rafferty, NHS North West director of commissioning and performance, said: “The pilot has been a resounding success. The response from GPs, NHS staff and patients alike has been overwhelmingly positive.”

It is not yet known whether it is planned to extend the technology to other areas in the UK and throughout Europe.