Australian scientists have come up with a new technique that will see nurses monitoring heart patients via a mobile phone.
This is done in a bid to encourage heart patients to complete their rehabilitation programs after surgery.
The trial, being run by the CSIRO's Australian E-Health Research Centre (AEHRC) and Queensland Health, uses a mobile phone to collect and send health-related information about patients' activities at home to a central computer.
AEHRC chief executive officer Dr. Phil Gurney said that less than 20 pct of the heart surgery patients complete their six-week rehabilitation program, following the need for patients to return regularly to the hospital for the rehab program.
"We are largely using technology that is available, but we have customised it to our purposes," ABC Science quoted Gurney as saying.
The mobile phones have an inbuilt accelerator that measures physical activity such as the number of steps walked.
The patients also use the phone to record data from blood pressure monitors and scales.
The participants were asked to take photos of meals they eat or videos of themselves exercising, and use an electronic diary on the phone to record observations about their stress levels, diet, smoking and alcohol intake.
The information is sent to a central computer.
"We tried to take advantage of what technology is available because we want to get it out to as many people as possible and be cost effective," he added.
Gurney said that a small subset of the group is also trailing home use of a heart-rate monitor while exercising. The data is transferred to the phone automatically via Bluetooth.
He said that if the trials are successful, the technique could be used by patients who live in remote areas or have commitments that make hospital visits difficult.