a doctor wearing a white coat and smiling at the camera

How technology is revolutionising care for patients with chronic conditions

Sarah Devitt

Sarah Devitt

Microsoft, Digital Transformation and Public Sector

Read Time, 4 min.

“I could never have imagined that the monitoring system I had developed for patients with chronic heart disease would one day play a role in the war against a global pandemic.”

José Paulo Carvalho, Founding Partner of Portuguese telehealth company Hope Care, explains how technology he has been developing for more than six years – HCAlert – is now helping hospitals remotely monitor and care for vulnerable patients in their fight against the pandemic.

The idea for the technology began in 2014 when, encouraged by the Portuguese government’s drive to develop technical solutions that would allow doctors to treat patients remotely, José met Doctor Luís Oliveira from Cova da Beira Hospital, which serves the municipalities of Covilhã, Fundão, Belmonte and Penamacor.

As Dr Luís explains: “We began working with Hope Care on an innovative new system that would allow us to monitor the health of patients with chronic heart failure remotely, reducing the need for them to come to hospital.”

Saving lives at home

In Portugal, like most developed countries, chronic heart failure is the most frequent cause of hospital admissions in people over the age of 65. These have increased by more than a third in the last decade.

The patient prognosis is poor. There’s a 12.5% risk of death during a hospitalisation, with a high chance of acute events occurring undetected after patients are sent home. Risk of death is 17% in the first year.

That’s where Hope Care’s Azure-powered HCAlert patient monitoring system, tailored to meet the needs of Dr Luís’ patients, has proved to be a lifesaver.

Patients use simple Bluetooth-connected devices to share daily measurements – such as their temperature, weight and blood pressure. The data is then submitted via a smartphone to Hope Care’s centralised system and stored securely in the cloud.

The hospital is then informed if the data shows a patient’s condition has transgressed set parameters, allowing doctors to act accordingly. Medical staff are also better able to detect early signs of decompensation – and take action to prevent a patient experiencing an acute event, by adjusting their medication or providing advice.

“It’s a simple and relatively inexpensive system,” adds Dr Luís.

“The doctors train the patients and their carers how to use the device and it’s very straightforward so that patients are easily able to use it after just one session,” he adds.

“It helps the patient to feel very active in their own care – we see greater adherence to prescribed medication treatments and to a healthy lifestyle. It also provides a constant link and source of communication between the patient and the department, which in turn helps them feel safe and more comfortable.”

Storing and managing sensitive data of this kind also requires specific certifications to ensure that hospitals are compliant, which could now easily be accessed at any time through the cloud-based Azure Trust Center.

“Using Azure makes it easy for us to comply with local data regulation,” explains José. “Patient data is kept secure and ensures we are compliant with medical standards. And the cloud gives us the power and flexibility to process huge amounts of data on demand”.

By reducing the need for hospital visits, the annual cost reduction per patient is over €47,000. And mortality in patients that have trialled the system has decreased to 9.5% – 45% lower than the 17% expected by European Guidelines.

HCAlert and COVID-19

Though designed to help with chronic heart conditions, HCAlert has also delivered unforeseen benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak.

By allowing doctors to monitor older patients with chronic conditions remotely – and eliminating or reducing the need for hospital visits – it has made the isolation of vulnerable people possible, without compromising their healthcare.

“Although we don’t have many cases of COVID-19 in the municipalities that our hospital serves, isolation of vulnerable chronic patients is crucial,” explains Dr Luís.

Additionally, José realised that HCAlert could also be applied to care for isolated patients who had contracted COVID-19.

“With COVID-19 patients, you need to measure the same vital signs as you would with chronic heart disease. We’ve just altered the algorithm to deploy different parameters for COVID-19 patients.”

Expanding the solution

Given the massive migration of the medical profession to online virtual consultations, Hope Care has integrated Microsoft Teams with the monitoring system, allowing clinicians and nurses to collaborate and, when needed, contact patients through a secure video call to provide further support and guidance.

Already, there are eight Portuguese hospitals assessing COVID-19 patients via Teams – all informed by the data they’re receiving from HCAlert. If any anomalies are detected, the hospital can contact the patient proactively and discuss their treatment options – helping save time that could be vital to patient health and improve overall efficacy.

It shows how, in a time when many healthcare providers share the challenges of strained budgets and fewer clinicians, technology can help support the ongoing care patients need to live healthier and happier lives. A cost-effective way for hospitals to provide high-quality care services and use their resources effectively, all without putting anybody in unnecessary jeopardy.

Free eBook: Breaking Down AI - 10 Real Applications in Healthcare

Demystify artificial intelligence (AI) and learn how it can help solve healthcare challenges in this interactive e-book.

Free eBook: 5 reasons your modern workforce needs Microsoft Teams

Businesses must decide how they’ll respond to the new ways teams work together. To find out how, download this free eBook.

Education

Finance & Insurance

  • External shot of Fire Group offices building

    The Fire Group: how data-driven processes are reshaping sustainable credit management

    “We want to change the way credit management is perceived, because we play an important social role in this sector. Data and technology allow us to show the critical role that we play in a more direct way.” Sonia Di Nuzzo, Corporate Communication Leader at Fire is outlining the ambitious goal the company is setting for the industry it operates in with data. As Italy’s largest independent credit management solutions provider, Fire plays a pivotal role […]

  • a person standing in front of a window

    Business continuity in financial services

    During these uncertain times, Microsoft is committed to supporting financial service customers and their regulators around the globe. Here’s how…

Government

Healthcare

  • A woman undergoing a scan

    Predictive maintenance is improving quality of life for cancer patients

    With cancer affecting more than 17 million people annually, a figure set to rise dramatically in the coming years, efficient and cost-effective treatment is essential. Since deploying Microsoft Azure IoT, IBA Worldwide, a leading developer of medical equipment for cancer treatment, has been able to reduce the cost of maintenance and improve repair times for […]

  • A woman working in healthcare talking to another woman

    How Capio is using interoperability and conversational intelligence to transform healthcare

    “Our doctors and staff were running faster and faster. Like mice on a wheel trying to keep up,” recalls Niklas Sundler, Technology Innovation Director at Ramsay Santé and Capio, as he explains how COVID-19 changed the rules of healthcare delivery as it swept across Sweden in early 2020. “Everything happened so quickly,” Sundler continues. “We […]

Manufacturing

  • Man with a tattoo pointing at a tablet in a factory

    2020 has shown manufacturers the true value of digital transformation

    At the start of 2020, there were all manner of manufacturing topics to be discussed. And then suddenly, there was only one. It would be difficult to overstate the impact of Covid-19’s disruption on manufacturers. Almost across the board, this industry has seen supply chains breaking, cash ceasing to flow and production lines grinding to […]

  • Komatsu yellow machinery

    Database migration that helps you be ‘better than the best’

    The Japanese term dantotsu is difficult to translate, but roughly means ‘better than the best’. Since its founding nearly 100 years ago, Japanese construction and mining equipment multinational, Komatsu, has striven to provide its customers with a service that achieves just that. As part of this mission, Komatsu launched its Dantotsu Strategy in 2003, which […]

Retail

  • a person standing in a room

    Delivering seamless commerce with a complete omnichannel solution

    With retail moving beyond a transactional model, customers are looking for retail experiences that meet or exceed their growing expectations. Retailers are tasked with better understanding customer needs and preferences in order to create personalized and friction-free shopping experiences. This is only possible by removing the barriers between traditionally isolated channels, like e-commerce and physical […]

  • Whitepaper: Retail Insights – Harnessing the Power of Data

    Whitepaper: Retail Insights – Harnessing the Power of Data

    The retail industry contributes a significant portion to the GDP of many countries, employs tens of millions of people and touches nearly everyone. In order to gain insight at a particularly volatile time for the industry, we recently conducted a survey with 100 retail executives to gain insight into their business challenges and learn about […]