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E-health device helps heart failure patients better manage their condition

Preliminary research shows promising results for touch screen/weighing scale aid

Caroline White

Monday, 22 May 2017

An e-health aid is helping heart failure patients to better manage their condition at home, finds preliminary research presented at the weekend in Jonkoping, Sweden, at EuroHeartCare 2017, the annual congress of the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions (CCNAP) of the European Society of Cardiology.

“Approximately 60% of patients with heart failure receive treatment and follow up in primary care,” said lead author Maria Liljeroos, a nurse and deputy head of the coronary care unit, Mälarsjukhuset Hospital, Eskilstuna, Sweden, and a PhD student at Linköping University, Sweden.

“Providing education to increase self-care is often a challenge in primary care due to lack of experience about heart failure, and time,” she added.

To improve care for heart failure patients in all parts of the healthcare system, in 2010, a county council in Sweden set up heart failure clinics in primary care. It decided to test whether an e-health tool, called OPTILOGG, could help patients manage their own condition.

OPTILOGG combines a small touch screen, in a small stand, and a pre-programmed tablet attached to a weighing scale. It provides information and advice on heart failure, registers body weight and symptoms, and titrates diuretics.

If the tool detects worsening heart failure, the patient is instructed to increase the dose of diuretics. If weight gain is above a pre-determined range, patients are advised to contact the heart failure clinic.

OPTILOGG has already proved that it can improve self-care in patients followed up in specialist heart failure clinics after an inpatient stay.

The current study evaluated its effectiveness in primary care, with the aim of assessing how well patients stuck to using OPTILOGG, exploring nurses’ experiences of implementation, and looking at the impact on self-care.

Patients’ ability to continue using OPTILOGG was registered automatically and data were retrieved after four months.

The introduction of the tool was assessed by semi-structured interviews with eight heart failure nurses at four months. Data on self-care were collected using the validated nine-item European Heart Failure Self-Care Behaviour Scale (EHFScB-9), at the start of the study and after four months. Responses to each item ranged from 0–5, with lower scores indicating better self-care.

The study included 32 patients (average age of 65) from four primary care heart failure clinics. Nearly a third (31%) were women.

The data showed that most (94%) patients used OPTILOGG as intended. Nurses didn’t feel that the tool increased their workload. Average self-care scores fell significantly decreased from 28.5 to 18 after four months.

“Patients’ self-care behaviours improved by 10.5 points or 37% when they used OPTILOGG. The nurses said patients felt safer and were more committed to taking better care of themselves when using the tool. And it didn’t create more work for nurses,” commented Ms Liljeroos.

“Our study shows that introducing OPTILOGG into primary care is feasible and has the potential to help patients with heart failure to manage their condition,” she concluded.

* Liljeroos M, et al. Implementation of an e-Health tool in heart failure clinics in primary care. EuroHeartCare 2017. Abstract 164.

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