Portiuncula Hospital has been making use of virtual technology to ensure that patients with demanding conditions, like heart failure, can continue to receive a high calibre of care, even when they can’t go to hospital.
Since the end of last year, GPs in East Galway have been able to avail of the virtual clinics being run by the heart failure team at Portiuncula.
Once a week, up to six GPs can discuss individual patient symptoms and treatment with the Heart Failure Team, on a one to one basis, via video conference.
This allows patients to receive expert care while still keeping them out of hospital, a notable goal of Sláintecare even before the pandemic, but more important than ever now.
The service is led by Dr Aidan Flynn, Consultant Cardiologist at Portiuncula Hospital who said, “Over the past year we have expanded our heart failure service to provide additional services to patients in their local primary care centres.”
“The next phase of our expansion of the Heart Failure Service is to support GPs who are seeing more patients being diagnosed with heart failure and living with heart failure.”
It’s estimated that there are more than 90,000 people in Ireland suffering from this disease, with 10,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.
The reason for this rapidly growing number is due to our aging population demographic, as well as the increasing number of people who survive traumatic events such as cardiac arrest, and the rising number of people with diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
Catherine Nolan, candidate Advanced Nurse Practitioner takes part in the virtual heart failure clinics with the GPs and provides a specialist nurse clinic for patients with heart failure in the primary care centres.
“We are developing our service to put patients at the centre of what we do and make sure that we get the right care to the right patients at the right time,” she said.
“GPs can now email us to book a time slot for the virtual clinic and based on the outcome of the discussion with Dr Flynn and myself, we can follow up and arrange for blood tests or a cardiac investigation such as echocardiogram or holter monitoring for the patient, as required.”
“I can also arrange to meet the patient in their nearest primary care centre on the day that they are scheduled for their echocardiogram or holter monitoring to carry out the blood tests and to provide patient and carer education on self-managing the disease.”
All of this helps to empower patients to be more actively involved in the management of their conditions, Catherine Nolan said.