Edzell first to welcome Florence

Edzell Health Centre

Edzell Health Centre

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Edzell Health Centre will be the first GP practice in Tayside to welcome a new mobile home health monitoring system.

The NHS-backed system, Florence, allows patients to do their own tests at home, then text in the results free of charge.

The Florence system will send back suggestions about adjusting medicine or coming into the surgery.

The system can also text reminders, advice and encouragement to patients as required.

Shona Burge, who is the Florence development officer for Tayside, said: “We’re not first in the field with this but that’s good, because we can learn from the experience of others. People in the Western Isles, Lanarkshire and Lothian and in 70 healthcare organisations across the UK are already using this system.

“It’s easy to use, because just about everyone can text. You don’t need a smartphone, the most basic mobile phone will do.

‘‘It’s early days here, but elsewhere Florence has proved popular. It saves patients visiting their surgery, spending money on bus fares or parking and it also frees up clinicians to see the people who have more urgent needs.”

Florence has been evaluated in a research study by healthcare academics drawn from the Universities of the West of Scotland, Strathclyde and elsewhere, which concluded: “The majority of patients find the service easy to use, reassuring, and reducing the number of contacts they had with their doctor.”

Shona added: “Florence helps to give people more confidence when living with a long-term condition. Frequent short messages help you feel more in control of your own healthcare.”

The Florence project has been funded by the Scottish Government and is shared between NHS Tayside and Dundee, Perth & Kinross and Angus health & social care partnerships. Shona stressed that the system is not an emergency service, adding if people need urgent medical assistance they should contact their GP or NHS24.

She said: “There has been lots of interest from healthcare professionals in using Florence. It can be used for many things, for example helping women to stop smoking and stay smoke free during pregnancy. But we are taking this step by step. Eventually we hope GPs and clinics all over Tayside will use Florence, and patients will benefit.”