The ward will enable AF patients to be monitored in their own homes rather than in hospital
“This brand-new service gives patients the opportunity to be managed and recuperate in their own homes whilst their heart rhythm settles back to normal but with the peace of mind that they’re still being monitored by specialist clinicians." Professor Andre Ng, consultant cardiologist and electrophysiologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
A virtual ward for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) has opened in Leicester.
Although virtual wards are increasingly common, this is one of the first in the UK for patients with AF, a condition in which patients have a fast and irregular heart rhythm. They may also experience dizzy spells, palpitation and shortness of breath. The condition affects between one and two percent of the population as a whole, and one in 10 people over the age of 70. It increases the risk of stroke by five times.
Launched by University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, the ward enables patients with AF to be monitored virtually from their own home rather than in hospital.
The scheme, which will provide 120 virtual beds, is being run in association with technology provider Dignio. It has been awarded £274,000 funding from NHS England’s Transformation Directorate – what used to be NHSX.
During a pilot of the virtual ward, patients received equipment to monitor their blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels as well as a device that produces an electrocardiogram (ECG) giving an assessment of their heart rhythm.
The My Dignio app records the readings and sends them wirelessly and securely to the hospital, enabling clinicians to identify any anomalies.
The Salford Care Organisation is already using the Dignio app reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.
University of Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust has participated in international research into AF treatments and recently took part in a study which pioneered the concept of early treatment for AF patients, which was specifically designed to prevent strokes.
Professor Andre Ng, consultant cardiologist and electrophysiologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and professor of cardiac electrophysiology and head of the Cardiovascular Sciences Department at the University of Leicester, said: “This is a glimpse into the future of care for patients with atrial fibrillation.
“This brand-new service gives patients the opportunity to be managed and recuperate in their own homes whilst their heart rhythm settles back to normal but with the peace of mind that they’re still being monitored by specialist clinicians.
Last year University Hospitals of Leicester opened a virtual Covid ward to support coronavirus patients with moderate disease.