Publish date: 8 March 2022

Northumbria Healthcare leading way in Europe on remote heart technology

A man wearing scrubs standing in an operating theatre with a computer-like machine in front of him.

Remote technology to improve care for patients with heart conditions has been used for the first time in Europe by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust has been using programmers to ‘talk’ to crucial cardiac equipment inside a patient’s body, like pacemakers or defibrillators, for some time, but when changes or adjustments are needed, it sometimes requires someone from the manufacturer to be present.

Renamic Neo is the latest internet-connected programmer model from BIOTRONIK, enabling digital working in clinical environments, and the company offers a LiveSupport service to remotely support medical professionals during its use.

This means that there is no need for a BIOTRONIK technician to be present with the clinician and patient at the hospital. They can be working from anywhere in the country, helping to improve treatment, reduce waiting time and keep patient scheduling flexible.

Dr Iain Matthews, Northumbria Healthcare’s head of cardiology, said: “With the new system, there’s no need for company representative to come to the hospital, bringing with it a range of additional benefits. Patients don’t need to wait for a time when someone can attend in person, minimising trips to hospital and reducing waiting times.”

The new system’s prototype has been used in the US, UK and Europe, but the first live use of the final system in Europe was a Northumbria Healthcare patient in mid-November. Its ongoing use at the trust’s hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside is also helping to support a continent-wide pilot.

Dr Matthews added: “It means less travel, which is both more convenient for patients and also helps reduce our environmental impact, while it also results in less person-to-person interaction, which is key for infection prevention and control, not least as we continue to be mindful of Covid-19.”

‘I’ve never felt so famous…’

Among the patients to have been treated using the Renamic Neo programmer so far is Alan Brown, who had a third lead connected to his pacemaker at Wansbeck General Hospital in December.

The 82-year-old, from Stocksfield, said: “I thought it was absolutely fantastic. It’s amazing technology and there was no problem whatsoever; there was a cardiac physiologist with me and then someone on the screen from BIOTRONIK. I would be happy to recommend it to other patients.”

When told he was among the first in Europe to be treated with this kit, he added: “I’ve never felt so famous in my life!”

Mr Brown was diagnosed with a heart block – a condition where a problem with the electrical pulses that control how your heart beats causes it to beat more slowly or with an abnormal rhythm – a number of years ago after experiencing breathlessness at one of the final Great North Runs he took part in, having completed almost every race between the very first in 1981 and 2013.

“I’ve been very well looked-after and I’d like to thank everyone at Wansbeck,” he said. “The care I have been getting has been phenomenal.”

Albert Panzeri, Vice President of BIOTRONIK, said: “With LiveSupport, we can provide real support in real time remotely. Knowing that we can quickly respond to the challenges physicians and patients face every day is both very rewarding and reassuring to us.”

Media contact

Ben O’Connell, media and communications officer, Northumbria Healthcare

Benjamin.O’Connell@northumbria-healthcare.nhs.ukor 07833 046680.