Telemedicine project ‘My Heart’ is to become operational in the town of Bad Oyenhausen, in North Rhine-Westphalia, aiming to provide homecare to patients with a left-sided heart failure. All relevant data will be transmitted through a telephone line to the doctors.
In the framework of the project, medical experts from the Heart and Diabetes Center of North Rhine-Westphalia (Herz- und Diabeteszentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen - HDZ NRW, in German) and its partners will provide patients with their help and advice during an 18-month period, on a 24-hour basis.
In the case of a left heart failure, the patient’s quality of life depends primarily on early detection of deterioration and on the close supervision of a well-connected team of doctors. "With this project we are helping our patients - after they have been discharged from the hospital - to learn more about their disease and to live independently and responsibly", said William Hecker, Director of the HDZ NRW. Peter Mager, head of contract of the supplier company in North Rhine-Westphalia, stated: "The telemedicine service allows an early detection of risk factors, improving significantly the quality of life of patients with acute and chronic diseases. The long-term goal is to reduce the number of inpatient admissions."
The main purpose of this initiative is to allow patients to check their own health from their homes. HDZ NRW has adjusted the telecare service to patients’ various needs. Patients will receive an electronic scale, which will send data using telemedicine. If necessary, a blood pressure as well as Electrocardiography (Elektrokardiogramm - EKG, in German) devices will also be supplied. The health data of the participants will go through the phone line directly to the tele-cardiology department of the centre. "If we see from the analysis of the data that the heart disease is getting worse, then we can immediately react. At the same time, we increase the quality of life by eliminating unnecessary hospitalisations in the interest of the patient," said Dr. Henry Körtke, Director of the Institute for Applied Telemedicine (Instituts für angewandte Telemedizin - IFAT, in German) in the HDZ NRW.
In order to ensure the safe use of the home-monitoring device, patients will receive intensive training, either by phone or in local outpatient centres. "To ensure the sustainable success of therapy and increase patient compliance, the patient will receive regularly a call from the telemedicine centre", says Mager.
Participation in the project is voluntary and free for the patients that are insured with private health insurance company that also supplies the device. The only requirement for participation is that the insured people have been previously diagnosed with, and hospitalised for, a ‘left-sided heart failure’.
The private health insurance service provider and HDZ NRW have recently signed up a contract. The close monitoring and rapid response will also be supplemented with onsite doctors’ care.
According to the estimates of the Fritz Beske Institute in Kiel, the annual treatment of heart and cardiovascular diseases in Germany will continue to rise: from 115 000 in 2000, to 157 000 in 2020 and to 190 000 in 2050.