Mums-to-be at the Great Western Hospital are the first in the region to benefit from a new text messaging system which makes it easier to check their blood pressure and receive medical advice from staff.
The Florence Simple Telehealth system, also known as Flo, sends alerts to patients to prompt them to self-monitor their health.
Flo can be used for a number of long-term conditions but at GWH it offers pregnant women who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) a convenient way to monitor their health.
Women are given training to take their own blood pressure readings using a machine and once Flo is set up they can carry on with their daily lives.
They then receive personalised reminders to take the tests and teams at the hospital can assess the readings and get in touch with advice.
It is currently in use by 46 patients in Maternity Services, but could benefit 40 per cent of the Swindon women who attend the 2,200 blood pressure checks at the hospital each year.
Guidelines suggest that women with pregnancy-induced high blood pressure should have weekly checks in mild cases, and more frequent tests in moderate cases.
Dr Nusrat Fazal, Consultant Obstetrician, said: “For many women, blood pressure monitoring would mean that they have to take time off of work, find childcare, pay for the car park and wait to be seen but with Flo they can get to grips with their blood pressure control in their own comfort zone.
“Flo helps them to become confident and to be more involved in their care and we want other specialties at the hospital to get involved with the project, as the concept can be used for monitoring so many other health conditions.”
Dr Mohamed Elnasharty, Consultant Obstetrician, said: “The Flo project can also help to prevent unnecessary treatment for patients whose blood pressure rises just because they are in a hospital environment.”
The scheme went live last summer, after a positive trial period, and the Maternity Services team are hopeful that more patients will get involved soon.
Funding from the Department for Health and the South West Academic Health Science Network has helped to bring the system to life in Swindon.
For more information about high blood pressure during pregnancy, visit www.nhs.uk/