Health Minister, Jim Wells, has visited the Telemonitoring NI Centre to see how technology is helping to support patients to manage their health and social care needs.

The Centre which operates a telemonitoring service for Northern Ireland on behalf of the Centre for Connected Health and Social Care (CCHSC), part of the Public Health Agency (PHA), was delighted to welcome Health Minister, Jim Wells.

The Telemonitoring NI telehealth service allows patients with long-term conditions, such as diabetes, heart or respiratory illness, to test their vital signs including pulse, blood pressure and blood glucose at home on a daily basis. The information is monitored centrally and patients’ local healthcare professionals are alerted if readings deteriorate to an unacceptable level.

Telemonitoring NI also provides telecare services across Northern Ireland, providing continuous remote monitoring of users by means of sensors and alarms to enable them to continue living in their own home while minimising risks associated with falls and other emergencies.

The Minister was given a tour of the centre and met with two clinicians and members of the triage nursing team. The Minister said: "Telemonitoring NI has sparked quite a bit of interest in recent years, both within Northern Ireland and beyond, and I am pleased to be here today to see it in action. I was particularly interested to hear the perspectives of service users about how they have benefited from the service."

The Minister continued: "Telemonitoring NI is a great example of how technology can support the delivery of Transforming Your Care (TYC) and fits with direction of "Making Life Better" framework for public health – with the focus being on the needs of the individual, empowering and educating them so that they can take control of their condition. In addition, it enables early intervention by medical staff when needed, providing much welcome reassurance for patients. It is clear that the service is making a positive impact on the lives of many people in Northern Ireland."

During the visit, the Health Minister met with Kevin O’Brien, a Respiratory Specialist Nurse and Patricia Clawson, a Diabetes Specialist Nurse within South Eastern Trust. Patricia is a Registered General Nurse and Nurse Independent Prescriber and has been working within the Multidisciplinary Diabetes Team in primary care for 11 years.

She said: "I have found telemonitoring complements the work of the Diabetes nurse. It offers support and reassurance for some patients and for others it can be used as a motivational tool helping them recognise patterns and changes that are required in either diet or lifestyle. It also enables me to obtain up-to-date and accurate blood glucose results enabling appropriate and timely clinical management for our patients."

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency, said: "Telemonitoring services not only help people to be more active in managing their specific health conditions, but also build their general confidence and independence. These services have a vital role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of our community."

Simon Arnold, Chief Customer Officer at Tunstall Group, part of TF3, commented: "I am delighted to welcome Health Minister Jim Wells to the TF3 Telemonitoring NI Centre, to see first-hand the telemonitoring service in action.

"We are three and a half years into a six year programme together and so far we have provided services to thousands of patients in their own homes and triaged tens of millions of pieces of data. We’re increasingly seeing health and social care shape their services around the needs of the individual, and telemonitoring puts the patient at the centre of their care. Our clinically-led service supports patients from referral to discharge, encouraging engagement with health professionals and making better use of resources, as well as enabling patients to actively manage their condition more effectively."

Photo L-R: Jim Wells, Health Minister, Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, Barbara Taylor, Fold, John McLean, Fold, Kevin O’Brien, SET