What the NHS can learn from the public’s experiences with using remote health monitoring tech
Healthwatch England has published a new report that explores people’s experiences with using technology to monitor their health conditions at home and how NHS services could improve in this area.
Although the report – ‘The public’s experience of monitoring their blood pressure at home’ – is specific to home-based blood pressure monitoring technology, the research findings and recommendations could apply more widely to remote monitoring technology in general.
As people with high blood pressure are increasingly being asked to monitor their own blood pressure at home using technology, Healthwatch England wanted to see what people’s experiences were with this.
The NHS programme ‘Blood Pressure @Home’ (BP@Home) enables people with high blood pressure to measure and share their blood pressure readings with their GP from home. In 2021, the NHS asked Healthwatch England to evaluate how this programme is working for patients.
The research focused on five local Healthwatch areas (Hampshire, Oxfordshire & Bucks, Gloucestershire, Darlington and Hammersmith and Fulham) selected by the NHS. As well as patients on the BP@Home pilot, Healthwatch England encouraged anyone monitoring their blood pressure remotely to take part.
Over 480 people responded to Healthwatch England’s survey, and 26 in-depth interviews were also carried out.
When it comes the remote monitoring aspects of this report, patients told Healthwatch England that they were not given enough information about why they were using the technology to monitor their health.
Some patients were not told what their blood pressure readings meant, so they were using the monitoring technology solely because they had been asked to. Patients wanted to know more about their readings.
This is an interesting point that could be applied to wider remote monitoring technologies. Giving people explanations as to not only how to use certain technology but also why they are using it and what the results show is important for wellbeing, peace of mind, and likelihood to continue using it.
Almost nine in in 10 survey participants found their monitoring device easy to use. However, very few patients were shown how to use the device, either via video call or face-to-face. Most relied on written instructions or figured it out for themselves.
Another technology-based finding from the report discovered that many people were submitting their readings through paper-based methods and would have preferred to submit their readings electronically. If the NHS gave patients a wider range of options to submit data to their GP, this would make using home-based monitoring technologies more appealing and speed up processes for many.
Additionally, patients told Healthwatch England that they were only asked to monitor their blood pressure on a short-term basis. The report describes this as a ‘missed opportunity’, as ongoing monitoring could help relieve pressure on the NHS in the long-term by preventing conditions from worsening and intervening more quickly.
When asked whether patients would be willing to monitor their blood pressure on an ongoing basis, a resounding 88 percent said they will continue to occasionally or regularly take their blood pressure.
Overall, 63 percent of the participants preferred monitoring their blood pressure at home over going to the doctor’s for blood pressure readings, which indicates a positive response towards remote monitoring technologies.
Read the full report here.