New technology that allows patients to monitor their blood pressure at home will be rolled out across Scotland.
The Scale-Up Blood Pressure Initiative reduces the need for GP consultations and can help to deliver more accurate readings.
Patients are shown how to measure their own blood pressure and text the results to an app called Florence, or Flo. Their GP or practice nurse is then able to monitor the readings, and arrange a face-to-face appointment only when necessary.
The system has been trialled successfully at more than 150 practices throughout Scotland, with more than 18,000 patients benefitting to date. Backed by £1.2 million of investment from the SNP Government, it will now be extended to other parts of Scotland over the next two years.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman MSP saw the technology first-hand during a visit to Hunter Health Centre in East Kilbride. Ms Freeman said:
“This technology brings significant benefits to patients. It enables them to have more control over how they manage their condition, and greatly cuts down on the number of appointments they have to attend.
“Another benefit is more accurate readings, because we know that some patients experience anxiety when attending appointments, which can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.
“By investing in improved technology across health and social care, we can improve patients’ experience and outcomes, and free up capacity in the system at the same time.”
Julie Chambers, a patient from East Kilbride who has benefitted from the technology, said:
“When I discovered I had high blood pressure, it was concerning. However, the prospect of having to go to a doctor’s surgery or clinic to get it regularly checked was enough to raise my blood pressure even higher! Between work and family I lead a very busy lifestyle.
“Being offered the use of Flo was a brilliant alternative and the hassle free-nature of it, without having to commute and take time out of a busy day, probably gave a truer reflection of my day-to-day readings.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“Encouragement of independent living runs like a thread through SNP Government policy and this will be money very well spent.
“Already, 18,000 people across Scotland have used Flo and I am delighted it will benefit people across North Ayrshire and the rest of Scotland.
“Furthermore, measuring blood pressure is the third most common reason for attending primary care appointments in Scotland, with 1.2 million GP appointments every year, so having this available should alleviate the workload in doctor’s surgeries too.”