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Nurse's IT innovation improves arthritis care

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says an innovative IT programme is enabling arthritis patients at the Hutt Valley DHB to self-monitor in the community, freeing up hospital resources for the sickest patients.

"Unlike some rheumatic conditions, inflammatory arthritis requires close monitoring for a significant time as the disease progression can be very unpredictable and can involve several medications," says Dr Coleman.

"Usually this means patients make regular visits to their local hospital to monitor and stabilise the disease. These visits can impact on their lifestyle, forcing them to take time away from work and family commitments."

Hutt Valley DHBs Rheumatology Clinical Nurse Specialist Merie Claridge teamed up with the hospital IT team to develop a virtual clinic four years ago.

This means patients can monitor their own conditions away from hospital. The computer programme stores all the relevant patient data and schedules virtual and face-to-face clinic appointments.

Developing this programme has created space in the outpatient schedule so that patients whose condition has become unstable can be seen quicker.

"The team at Hutt Valley have just signed up their 400th patient onto this programme - and I congratulate them on reaching this milestone," says Dr Coleman.

"We want people living healthier lives away from hospitals, and better utilising technology is a large part of achieving this goal. This clinical initiative is a great example of this."

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