‘Virtual ward’ for blood pressure monitoring has empowered pregnant patients – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

A virtual ward is anything which uses digital technology to enable patients to receive treatment and care at home, instead of coming into hospital.

In order to keep people safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, different technologies were introduced to minimise the need for patients to come into hospital when it was not required.

In line with guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), home blood pressure monitoring was introduced by the Pregnancy Assessment Unit at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Following a review, this virtual ward is continuing as it has been shown to provide women with a robust and safe system for monitoring their own blood pressure from the comfort of their own home, while maintaining a reliable referral process for outpatient management of those whose conditions require it.

A collaborative process has developed between patients and the maternity team, while the remote management of blood pressure has reduced footfall through the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington and resulted in a reduction in the number of follow-up appointments for those with higher blood pressure, while maintaining a healthy pregnancy for both mother and baby.

Katy Lissaman, a midwife at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Prior to using this new system, patients would need frequent face-to-face follow-up appointments, but they are now managed remotely from home, which results in a number of benefits.

“Most importantly, patients have responded really positively to its introduction, because it has empowered them to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, through giving them the information they need to understand what is normal or abnormal as well as the signs or symptoms to be aware of.

“It has given them confidence to use their own instincts if they are feeling unwell or experience a change in their condition. In this situation, they can perform a self-check at home, submit the results and they will be called in for a hospital for review if needed, meaning the highest levels of patient safety and care are maintained.”

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