Philips connects people and technology to improve heart health

Each day we learn more about how lifestyle choices affect our cardiovascular health. Public Health England’s new heart age test, for example, revealed that four out of five adults have a heart age above their real age.

There is much that we can do to keep our hearts healthy and strong, and to reduce the risk of heart disease. The focus of World Heart Day this year, which is hosted annually by the World Heart Federation, is all about shifting the focus from treating illness to preventative care.

The aim is to encourage people to make a heart promise, a small lifestyle change that can add up to a powerful difference in our heart health, such as eating a healthy, balanced diet, doing 30 minutes of activity a day or giving up smoking, and can help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Increasingly, technology plays a role in helping us make the right choices to stay well. But when things go wrong, despite our best efforts, technology is also there to help doctors provide the best care to get us back on our feet.

Many cardiac services are overstretched within the UK, partly as a result of the rise in CVD. This pressure is keenly felt in cath labs, where cardiologists examine the arteries around your heart through a relatively non-invasive catheter to determine the presence of any blockages or narrowing.

However, technology has a role to play in supporting cardiologists with this increasing workload, enabling them to perform procedures more consistently and efficiently, while maintaining the same level of confidence in diagnosis.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust provides a service to 2.5 million people in Nottinghamshire and surrounding counties. The trust delivers some 1,200 non-surgical catheter procedures a year in just two labs, so the department is incredibly busy with an ever-increasing strain on their finite resources.

We help to create seamless solutions that connect people, technology and data

As a result of the workload challenges, the trust implemented the Philips Azurion, a new-generation image-guided therapy platform, as a way of enabling them to treat more patients at a lower radiation dose, while maintaining their confidence in offering an accurate first-time diagnosis.

Andy Rogers, head of radiation physics, leads the team of scientists and technologists who support imaging and radiation safety across the trust. He says: “The Azurion has addressed these challenges, mainly by its ease of use.”

The technology is enabling more patients to be treated, which is good for the nation’s heart health. Mr Rogers says: “If we have stable staffing and we’re able to really drive all the workflow benefits from this machine, then we might be a bit quicker. It is not that we’d do 20 cases instead of five in a day, but each small improvement over the course of a year takes the pressure off, makes for a better working environment and eventually means more patients can get treated.”

Another way in which technology can provide support with the current strain on cardiac services is through portability, enabling clinicians to offer services outside the hospital setting and to connect with one another wherever they are in the world. This can overcome the burden on individual trusts, enabling them to share workload and offering the opportunity of a second opinion, in turn providing a superior service for patients.

The Lumify portable ultrasound system, recently launched by Philips, can turn ordinary, compatible tablets into an ultrasound solution, enabling clinicians to live stream images to share with experts anywhere in the world. For example, a midwife in the community could call upon their colleagues in the hospital to receive a second opinion, discussing the ultrasound examination as if they were in the same room.

Using the same technology, an emergency medical technician in an ambulance could stream the live ultrasound exam and discuss a patient’s condition with an A&E physician to ensure hospitals have all the necessary information there is to know about a patient on their arrival.

Neil Mesher, chief executive of Philips UK and Ireland, says: “A core focus is to break the boundaries standing in the way of organising healthcare around the patient to deliver better outcomes.

“We help to create seamless solutions that connect people, technology and data. This includes our commitment to preventative care, such as through our partnership with the World Heart Federation for World Heart Day, as well as technology that has been designed to improve care within the hospital setting.”

Technology is a critical element in the search for solutions to creating sustainable healthcare systems in the 21st century and supporting cardiovascular care is an important step in the right direction.

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