Text pilot to reduce GP burden

Shona Robison, along with practice nurse Deborah Smeeton and patient John Thomson, takes a closer look at a new home-based blood pressure machine at Boroughloch Medical Practice, Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow
Shona Robison, along with practice nurse Deborah Smeeton and patient John Thomson, takes a closer look at a new home-based blood pressure machine at Boroughloch Medical Practice, Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A FRIENDLY text service known as “Florence” will help Lothian patients reduce the risk of stroke and kidney disease by urging them to test their blood pressure at home.

High blood pressure is the second most common reason for people to visit their GP and accounts for more than 1.2 million appointments across Scotland.

Experts from Edinburgh University led a trial into the impact of tele-monitoring on managing the condition, which found services such as this resulted in substantial reductions.

Now more than 2500 Lothian patients will be given their own blood pressure machine to use at home, so they can text their results to their GP in a bid to reduce the burden on struggling family doctors.

The surgery staff will be able to tell immediately if their blood pressure is on target or if the patient needs to see a doctor.

Professor Brian McKinstry, who led the research, said: “Patients can measure their blood pressure in the comfort of their own home and, as they are more relaxed than in a GP’s surgery, the readings are more accurate.

“We are hopeful that a wider adoption of this service will free up much-needed clinical time for GPs to spend with patients, while improving the service received by those who require blood pressure monitoring over the long term.”

The team behind the Scale-Up Blood Pressure project – which is being trialled in 25 medical practices across Lothian – are hopeful it could be rolled out across Scotland if successful.

Dr Janet Hanley, a reader in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “Our original research showed that telemetry-supported home blood pressure monitoring provided a convenient and trustworthy measure of blood pressure to help guide treatment and to help people lower their blood pressure.

“The technology reduces the need for people to go to their surgery for blood pressure checks but, more importantly, better blood pressure control reduces individuals’ risk of stroke, chronic kidney disease and other high blood pressure-related conditions.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison praised the pilot during a visit to Boroughloch Medical Practice, near the Meadows, yesterday.

She said: “It shows how new technology can transform the way healthcare is delivered within our NHS.

“In particular, within primary care, new technology has the potential to revolutionise the way the system works – improving the experience for patients and freeing up GP time to concentrate on more urgent and complex cases.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com