Patients may get computer help

PATIENTS with long-term chronic illnesses could manage their conditions at home using new computer technology being developed in Yorkshire which could help save the NHS millions of pounds.

Experts say the SMART system devised in research led by Sheffield University acts as a patient's "personal therapist" by providing advice and health checks which usually require a visit to a GP surgery.

They claim it could save the NHS money by flagging up complications before patients need emergency help.

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NHS chiefs are examining measures to reduce emergency hospital admissions, which are soaring, partly due to the ageing population. Among solutions being looked at are a greater use of telehealth in the home to help people monitor their own conditions.

The SMART (Self Management Supported by Assistive, Rehabilitation and Telecare Technologies) system uses smart phone technology to record a patient's activity and amends their daily schedules depending on the user's own assessment of their progress.

A separate computer also tracks key health indicators, such as weight change and blood pressure, while also providing advice.

Three versions of the system are being developed to cover victims of strokes, heart failure patients and sufferers of chronic pain.

Annette Haywood, from Sheffield University's School of Health and Related Research, said: "It is an innovative system."