Results from the evaluation of the world’s biggest telehealth trial are not expected to be published in full for another six to nine months, the Department of Health’s deputy director for long term conditions has said.
The evaluation of the Whole System Demonstrator pilots, which will assess the impact of telehealth and telecare on 6,000 patients with COPD, diabetes and heart disease across Kent, Newham and Cornwall, were expected this spring.
But speaking at an International Congress on Telehealth and Telecare at the King’s Fund, Stephen Johnson said that although some results will emerge in the spring, “There will be a range of results that will come out over the next six to nine months.
"We’re hoping to prioritise those key results... and those, we hope, will come out in the next few months in a formal and public way.”
He added: “We always knew there would be pressure to get results out quickly but they need to be robust.
"The trial data was only received in January this year and we now have a wealth of 12 months' data to get through.”
The WSD programme was a launched in 2006, following recommendations about telehealth in the community care white paper, ‘Our health, our care, our say.’
It is designed to provide evidence about how technology can help people manage their own health while maintaining their independence and on whether the technology is cost effective.
Johnson told the King’s Fund’s audience that the WSD programme will have cost the DH around £31m by the time it is complete, with around 12-15% (£3.7m - £4.6m)being spent on the evaluation.
He repeated earlier indications that the results have been "promising," saying they show a reduction in hospital admissions for “some people”, especially those living with COPD.
He also indicated there was a "trend towards improvement" shown by the analysis of cost effectiveness. In addition he said that some of the pilot sites were now looking to mainstream telehealth or at least extend the pilots with their own funding.
© 2011 EHealth Media.
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