A digital solution to support early intervention and catch the signs of deterioration in heart failure patients has been developed by the community Heart Failure Team at  County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, with help from NHS-owned digital health company Health Call.

Community Heart Failure Team at County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust


The remote monitoring solution was developed as part of NHS England/NHS Improvement Heart Failure @home project and supports the service to identify early signs of worsening heart failure in patients.  It alerts the Community Heart Failure team to quickly mobilise early intervention with the aim of preventing a deterioration in symptoms, and potentially reduce avoidable hospital admissions.

The digital solution enables patients to monitor their health and medication at home. Patients are given a kit to submit readings on their blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels, heart rate, and weight into their patient portal for review by their clinical team. If readings are out of the ‘normal range’ or any  are cause for concern, the clinician receives an alert to contact the patient or make an appointment.

The trust is currently running an initial pilot for the solution, where 100 patients from across County Durham and Darlington have been given the option to use remote self-testing. Their experiences will be reviewed ahead of a wider roll-out and have so far been very positive.

The remote monitoring solution has been developed and implemented by NHS-owned digital health company Health Call and is one of the many digital solutions developed in partnership with the trust. Health Call began as a project within County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust back in 2012 after recognising they could transform patient care and experience with digital technology. The company has since grown to develop over 60 digital solutions, and the two have continued to work closely in partnership.

For many patients, the ability to self-monitor has helped relieve anxiety related to their diagnosis and as such, has enabled some to feel confident enough to return to work.

Patients have also reported that having the equipment in their homes provides reassurance.  For many, self-monitoring is empowering as they now have more knowledge and understanding of their condition and the signs and symptoms to look out for.

For some it has also reduced the number of both clinic appointments as well as home visits. An additional benefit, as a result, is a saving in terms of patient time and money for travelling to and from appointments, such as fuel costs and car parking..

The solution has not been designed to replace face-to-face appointments but to act as complementary to them, supporting the service and providing greater flexibility and closer care for patients. Remote monitoring is optional, and patients can continue to attend face-to-face appointments at a clinic if they prefer. For many being able to self-monitor at home has proved less restrictive on daily life and prevented time being taken off work or making travel arrangements to attend hospital appointments etc.

Brian Fishpool, who lives in Darlington, was one of the first patients to join the pilot and explains,

“I was diagnosed with heart failure in 2007 and had a cardiac implant defibrillator fitted in 2016  As my condition was relatively stable, prior to being on the pilot I only needed to be monitored a couple of times a year. Obviously, if I’d become unwell, this would have been increased.

“I was invited to be part of the self-monitoring pilot in July 2021, and after the whys, hows and so on were all explained to me and when I was reassured that this was in addition to my appointments with the consultant, I agreed. I was given the equipment to monitor my weight, blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels – all calibrated to the highest hospital standards. So every Wednesday morning I weigh myself, then later in the day, I take my blood pressure and oxygen saturation – both of which I was shown how to do by the heart failure nurses. I then submit these readings using the Health Call app on my phone or computer. The specialist team can then review them, looking for any changes, deterioration or other causes for concern. Doing this regularly is very reassuring. The app gives me the confidence to know that every week, a member of the team is reviewing my care and determining if any changes are needed. I also know that if I want to speak with one of them about my condition or treatment, I can do that very quickly. Recently, my blood pressure has been a lot lower than it should be. This was picked up very quickly and is being treated by modifying the dosage of my medication.

“Self-monitoring certainly works for me, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to use it. I look upon it as additional reassurance.”Caroline Levie, Matron at NHS – County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, Community CHD & Heart Failure Service, said:

“Our Heart Failure remote monitoring solution helps our team to keep an extra eye on patients, which wouldn’t be possible with face-to-face appointments alone. This

closer monitoring is helping to identify early signs of changes in their condition so we can provide the most appropriate care as quickly as possible. Early intervention helps to get the best possible outcome for patients, reducing the risk of their health seriously deteriorating and them being admitted to hospital, which also, in turn, helps to preserve inpatient services for those most unwell and in most need.”

Claire Graham, Head of Customer Success at Health Call, said:

” Health Call is here to provide health care professionals with the best tools to support their patients and create a better experience for all.  Remote monitoring technology has the power to transform health care services, providing more flexibility for patients and tracking health data in real-time that can be utilised by teams to create better patient outcomes. It is wonderful to work in partnership with the Heart Failure Team at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and fantastic to see the impact of our Heart Failure solution on the service already. ”

You can find out more about our Heart Failure@Home solution and how it works here. If you would like to enquire about how this solution or something similar could benefit your organisation, contact us at [email protected].