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Mobile Phones Could Help Millions of Patients

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:28pm

Mobile phones have never really been that popular among health professionals, due to the potential harm the waves could cause your brain. It would therefore probably come as a shock to hear that they are now being
pioneered to help thousands of people across the UK, suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma.

Currently there are eight primary care trusts involved in the new project, which involves downloading software on to a normal mobile phone. Recent studies revealed that the software was very effective in minimising problems associated with chronic illnesses as well as reducing or preventing hospital disorders. In addition, it can be used to help cancer patients receive the correct doses of chemotherapy.

The software also allows patients to keep data involved with their condition and the treatment they are receiving, in order to maintain better control between GP and hospital appointments.

The information recorded is sent automatically to a central monitoring service, which lets nurses know if there are any potentially dangerous changes to the patient’s condition. Those who are deemed to be at risk will have access to a specialist immediately.

The software was created by a company called t+Medical. Trials have revealed that the software can reduce blood sugar levels for type 1 and type 2 diabetics by up to 0.7%. This therefore shows a fivefold less chance
of developing related conditions including blindness and limb amputations.

In a different variation of the program, the software can check the side-effects of chemotherapy, in order for oncologists to decide whether the appropriate dose is being used. There are different versions available for
various illnesses including asthma, high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung disorder which can be linked to smoking.

The software is being uses by trusts in Walsall, Oxford-shire, Norfolk and Norwich, Newham, Southampton, Leicester, North East Essex and Calderdale and costs patients approximately £250 a year.

Lionel Tarassenko, a professor at the University of Oxford and a board member of t+ Medical, has revealed that there are already thousands of patients across Britain benefiting from the software and more were set to
take part in the trials. His findings were presented at a medical engineering conference in London, which was organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

He said, “There are 12 million people in Britain who have diabetes, asthma, hypertension or COPD – that’s a fifth of the population. Chronic long-term conditions are among the highest costs to the NHS, accounting for 80 per cent of all GP consultations.

“It is in between visits to the doctor that these diseases run out of control. By the time anybody notices anything is wrong, they’re in the hospital with an emergency.”

Professor Tarassenko commented that mobile phones were a perfect way to help people control their medical conditions when not in appointments, as now 90% of the population uses or has access to one.
“The main aim of telehealth solutions is to keep patients out of hospital,” he said.

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