Patients are set to be prescribed with a revolutionary new medical app that lets them check blood pressure, oxygen levels and heart rate on their smartphone.
Surrey County Council and NHS Surrey have joined forces to develop plans for an app that allows vital health checks to be done at home without the need to visit the surgery or go to hospital*.
The technology, which will be aimed at people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, bronchitis and heart disease, is expected to be available for android smartphones and tablets by the summer.
GPs and community health workers will be asked to identify patients who would benefit from the app** and those who do not have a suitable device are expected to be provided with one.
Some 15 million people in England have at least one condition that cannot be cured but can be managed through medication while around 30 million people nationally own smartphones.
Department of Health research estimates that using telehealth could result in a 20% reduction in emergency hospital admissions and a 15% reduction in A&E visits. An emergency hospital trip can cost the NHS more than £2,500.
The county council committed to the app scheme ahead of taking over the running of public health in April to go alongside its adult social care responsibilities.
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Michael Gosling said: “This brings a whole new meaning to ‘doctor on call’. So many people use apps every day to find out which train to catch, check their bank balance or plan road journeys and ours will put a medical expert at their fingertips.
“Health and social care are closely linked and this app will help people stay independent for longer while saving cash in the long term at a time when demand for our services is rising and funding is falling. Of course, while the app will deliver round the clock support it won’t replace face-to-face appointments when they’re needed.”
* Bids to create the app are currently being weighed up as part of the launch of a telehealth service that also uses standard mobile phones.
** A code will be needed to access it. The app will ask questions about patients’ health and collect vital signs information from equipment connected via Bluetooth, with details sent wirelessly to clinicians. Any significant changes will automatically raise an alert.