The Department of Health has formally launched its 3millionlives campaign to roll out telehealth and telecare to 3m over the next five years.
At a Parliamentary reception, care services minister Paul Burstow also unveiled a concordat between the DH and the telehealth and telecare industries, to demonstrate commitment to the programme.
“We want to move beyond the current situation where a few thousand people are benefiting from telehealth to one where millions of lives can be improved with the help of these technology assisted services, and contribute to the mainstreaming of telecare,” it says.
The concordat is designed as an “enabling framework.” Detailed decisions about service delivery will be left to local decision makers, who “understand the needs and interests of patients.”
As such, it fails to go as far as a new report from the 2020 Health think-tank implicitly suggests it should.
The report, which studies the telehealth experience of the US Veterans Health Administration, suggests that care pathways incorporating telehealth should be designed and overseen at a national level.
It also says telehealth needs to be established as a “centralised care coordination service on a local / regional basis” and not built around the work of existing community matrons, district or practice nurses, as has sometimes been the case in the UK.
Other recommendations in the report include making changes to the NHS tariff and finding ways to target the patients who will most benefit from telehealth.
The Veterans Health Administration provides health services for 23m vets; some 50,000 of whom are now enrolled in its Home Telehealth programme, which supports those with mental health issues as well as long-term conditions.
The VHA has the advantage over the NHS of being a single payer and provider, so it captures all the cost savings generated by the programme.
Nevertheless, the concordat says that more use of telehealth and telecare should lead to fewer unplanned admissions to hospital and care homes, and more satisfaction with the care that people receive – as long as these technologies are integrated into NHS and social care services.
“By working together, and with other partners, government and industry can achieve transformational change so that patients benefit from safe and high quality services,” it asserts.
The concordat has been signed by the DH, Telecare Services Association, Association of British Healthcare Industries, Intellect and MedilinkUK.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
Triumph of hope over expectation?JacquesOuze 130 weeks ago
Being charitable, we might speculate that the DH is so keen to exhort the NHS to spend public money on unproven technology in the hope that it delivers some benefit if correctly applied (currently a big, uninformed if).
Cynics (not Jacques of course - mais non!) may wonder whether industry lobbying has scored a significant victory over evidence-based policy.
I think we would have heard....mrtablet 130 weeks ago
..if the WSD study had supported a broad economic or clinical efficacy case for telehealth while using
1. Intention To Treat analysis
2. Inclusion criteria which didn't just skim off a tiny subset of patients : the [already] best supported, informed, physically capable and cognitively intact!
3. Did not extrapolate benefits (or savings from discontinuing traditional services) to patients not studied (i.e. the less well supported, cognitively impaired etc)
To have any chance of showing real World benefits all the above are essential.
Meanwhile what we have heard about telehealth projects in the NHS setting is that they can certainly deliver spin, 'toys for the boys', employment opportunities for managers and profits for organisations which should instead be delivering something useful.
Hence the rush to sign on the dotted line, while telehealth is still the political buzzword du jour. After all, focus groups of fit 18-25 year old floating voters say - "You telling me I never need to go to hospital. I can to be treated by my iPhone at home. Sick bro'!"
How does this fit with the New NHS?Mary Hawking 130 weeks ago
The concordat appears to be a document singularly devoid of any real committments - passing implementation to the NHS with no mention of any central support.
I suppose this will be yet another requirement placed on CCGs - and require changing from any current community matron type system to the new, government-approved model trialed in the WSD model?
As there is no mention of any possibility of central funding even for set-up costs, does this mean that all costs will have to be met out of CCG budgets (which are on a one year basis) with any potential benefits not realisable until several years into the program?
But better evidence existsNick Tordoff 130 weeks ago
the WSD was the first large scale randomised control trial of Telehealth. Why not publish all the evidence from this study. So far we have had a one page puff piece from the DH. Surely this will give us the knowledge we need to roll this out effectively. Then we won't have to rely on industry or the Americans to tell us the best models for our patients.
Department of Health please publish the full WSD evidence