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How telehealth can benefit patients

Practices can make use of new technology to support patients with long-term conditions and help individuals stop smoking or lose weight.

Flo is a text messaging system that sends patients reminders, health tips and asks questions tailored to their individual needs.

The Florence Simple Telehealth text messaging system, or ‘Flo’ for short, was named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

It was first introduced by a team at NHS Stoke on Trent (now Stoke CCG) in 2010. Since 2010 it has been used by more than 30,000 people in over 70 health and social care organisations across the UK.

How are practices are using it?

It is being used to support an ever growing list of conditions, including mental health, asthma, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and stress incontinence. It’s also being used to make sure patients take their medicines, to aid recovery after surgery, and to support people who want to stop smoking or lose weight.

Typically, the software is bought at a CCG, hospital or federation level. Protocols are either developed locally, according to need and patient group, or users can make use of established protocols.

Watch a video showing how the system benefits patients

What are some of the results from using Flo?

An early clinical trial showed the impact using Flo had for patients with hypertension and chronic kidney disease. The trial showed better and faster clinical results in managing people’s blood pressure compared to a group of patients who didn’t use Flo.

The patients who used Flo also had high levels of patient satisfaction. Results went on to be published in the BMJ and a further four peer reviewed medical journal articles followed. Interest in Flo has grown ever since including listing in NICE’s shared learning database and achievement of an outstanding rating by the CQC for use in pregnancy.

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