Telehealth investment is key to long term conditions says Burstow

Published on Tuesday, 03 January 2012 11:11
Posted by Scott Buckler

Three million lives could be improved across England thanks to new high-tech healthcare. After seeing the technology in practice in Cornwall today, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow, has pledged to make it available to more people with long term conditions

In order to make this a reality, over the next five years the Department of Health will work with industry, the NHS, social care and professional organisations to bring the benefits of assistive technology such as telehealth and telecare to millions of people with long term conditions.

Telehealth and telecare use electronic equipment to read vital health signs such as pulse, weight, respiration and blood oxygen levels, which can be read remotely by health professionals in a different location. It means that people can stay in the comfort of their own homes with the peace of mind that a doctor or nurse will be alerted should there be a problem.

Care Services minister Paul Burstow said:

The trials of telehealth and telecare have shown how people with long term conditions can live more independently, reducing the time they have to spend in hospital and improving their quality of life. The feedback I have heard from people in Cornwall today has been incredibly positive. They were absolutely clear that high-tech healthcare being used here has improved their lives for the better.

“I want to see more people across the country benefit from this sort of technology. That is why we are working with industry, the NHS and Councils to change the lives of three million people across England over the next five years.”

Early findings indicate that telehealth can lead to
•    45 per cent reduction in mortality;
•    21 per cent reduction in emergency admissions;
•    24 per cent reduction in elective admissions;
•    15 per cent reduction in A&E visits;
•    14 per cent reduction in bed days; and
•    8 per cent reduction in tariff costs.

Yet up take in England has been slow – there are only around 5,000 telehealth users and only 1.5 million pieces of telecare in use to date.
At least three million people with long term conditions could benefit from using telehealth and telecare - leading to potential net efficiency gain of around £1.2 billion over the next five years.

This will put the UK in the forefront globally of long term conditions management and the use of this technology.

Joe Barr from St Keyne, who has been using telehealth since August 2009, said:

“It’s part of caring for yourself. I have to take responsibility for my illnesses. What telehealth does is it helps me to manage my conditions. I wouldn’t change anything about the service at all. The information about my readings is invaluable.

“Since using telehealth I have been to see my GP a lot less than I used to do. I understand more about my readings and relate it to my condition. It’s like having a little nurse on your shoulder. It’s brilliant!”

Norman Hemmings from Newquay, who has been using telehealth since January 2010, said:

“For me it works really well, it’s like having your second in the corner when you come out fighting. It’s comforting to know the service is there recording your readings and monitoring without you having to leave your home; it’s in your house! If you do receive contact from the telehealth nurse team they know you and your medical history very well. For me it got things moving on my new diagnosis; without telehealth this wouldn’t have been detected.”


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