The Medtronic Carelink Express mobile monitoring station

Self-service pacemaker monitoring cuts waiting times

A new mobile monitoring station is allowing heart patients in Hampshire to assess their pacemakers without the need for a nurse, doctor or visit to hospital.

The hi-tech CareLink Express has been launched at the Bitterne Park Medical Centre in Southampton as part of a pilot study, enabling people fitted with the devices to have instant check-ups at times that suit them.

The introduction of the device, made by American firm Medtronic, is part of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust's remote monitoring programme designed to provide care closer to home, cut waiting times and missed appointments and free staff to treat patients in hospital.

Regular monitoring of pacemakers allows experts to examine any changes in heart rhythm and intervene before patients become unwell or in need of hospital admission, but this requires appointments once or twice a year with staff spending about 20 minutes retrieving data during one-to-one consultations.

The mobile station means they do not need to attend fixed appointments – they head straight to the box, take a seat, follow the on-screen instructions and hold a monitor to their pacemaker for a few minutes.

Hospital staff are then able to access the data remotely through a secure server using a monitoring system known as CareLink and download it for review.

Professor John Morgan, a consultant cardiologist and remote monitoring lead, said: "We are constantly looking at ways we can free up patients who don't need to see medical staff from having to attend clinics while focusing staff time on the minority of patients who actually need to see a doctor.

"It's the sort of innovation we need to see more of in the health service to improve the use of NHS resources."

The innovation, which has been shortlisted for a Health Service Journal Value in Healthcare award, follows the introduction of the first walk-in pacemaker assessment booth at Southampton General Hospital in 2011.

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