Telehealthcare – what are they thinking?

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We know what Tunstall was thinking when it started pushing the term ‘telehealthcare’ – it needed to reposition itself from being the dominant UK telecare alarm system provider to get in on the fledgling telehealth market, and this was a convenient way to form a bridge from one to the other.

But what on earth are councils doing adopting the term? Specifically:

  • Moray Council
  • North Yorkshire County Council
  • Reading Borough Council
  • Southampton City Council

And, collectively, in the West Midlands under the Investing for Health Joint Improvement Team banner, The Telehealthcare Programme which covers:

  • Birmingham PCTs
  • Coventry
  • Dudley
  • Hereford and Worcester
  • North Staffordshire
  • Sandwell
  • Shropshire County
  • Solihull
  • South Staffordshire
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Telford & Wrekin
  • Walsall
  • Warwickshire
  • Wolverhampton

Do they not realise that, with the term ‘telehealthcare’ in the UK so closely associated with Tunstall, any procurement that they undertake which results in the purchase of their equipment could be open to challenge on the grounds that they were heavily predisposed to favour them?
[Related Telecare Aware items: on procurement challenge and telehealthcare brand spotting]


  1. Anon

    The use of “telehealthcare” is also a complete dilution of 5 years work trying to get the term telecare established.

  2. Kevin Doughty


    I’m struggling to understand why you, Steve, and others have a problem with the word telehealthcare since nobody seems to worry about healthcare as an acceptable term for the entire well-being agenda. Telehealthcare has been used in the UK since before 2007 and was defined in the Journal of Assistive Technologies Article (Vol 1 No. 2 pp. 6-10) as a potential umbrella term for everything from telecare to telemedicine. Certainly I was using the debate in discussions well before then – and also before it was adopted by Tunstall.

    Accepting the fact that telehealth might be considered as medical telecare, and the potential for confusion when dealing with remote vital signs monitoring (that our US cousins still like to call telehealth), Tunstall may have adopted the term telehealthcare to avoid further confusion rather than to establish the word as some form of trademark. It seems to me that if we all accepted that telecare is the only term necessary to describe care delivered at a distance to a person in their home, then we might start to make some progress. Of course, we might still need telehealthcare as an umbrella term to describe all forms of care provided at a distance, recognising that it’s telecare if they are in their homes, m-care if they are outside their homes, and telemedicine if they are in hospital.

    Either way, Tunstall doesn’t own the word telehealthcare, and if others wish to use it to describe their programmes of work, then they should be allowed to do so without worrying that they are in some way supporting a particular commercial organisation.

  3. Steve Hards

    Kevin, thanks for the challenge and the opportunity to elaborate my view and intention in raising the point.

    First, the word. ‘Telehealthcare’ seems to me an unnecessary addition to a field which, we agree, is beset with too many loosely defined terms. It is, in my opinion, an ugly conglomeration in which health predominates (‘telehealth’ and ‘healthcare’) at the expense of the ‘telecare’ element, which is split.

    Second, who should use it? I am happy to concede that anyone can label their efforts anything they wish, and I have been pointing to organisations other than Tunstall which have used the term, some for a considerable time. However, it is noticeable that the term has only gained ground in the UK since Tunstall started to use it and, as no other major suppliers use it, they have succeeded in owning it in the way that a team which has the ball in its possession ‘owns’ the ball.

    Third, why have I featured it? Part of the mission for Telecare Aware is to be a ‘critical friend’ to the industry and, as I saw it, I was just flagging up to anyone who thinks that using the term is a good idea that it now comes with implications which need considering. If they have thought about those and decided to go ahead, well and good. It’s not the first time I have flagged up apparent naivety in this sector. Remember the ICE-T example?

  4. Gerry

    Cumbersome terminology
    “Telehealthcare” seems a very cumbersome term to use and I don’t think it will become the most common term used by the public, who are just about getting used to the (easier) term “telecare”.

  5. Saneth Wijayaratna

    I refer to the comment from Kevin “Accepting the fact that telehealth might be considered as medical telecare”, then surely the best term would be “TELEMEDCARE”? I’m sure the Sales Director for TeleMedCare would be very happy if this term was taken up rather than Telehealthcare.

  6. Dave


    I am confused. Ali Rogan from Tunstall states in the Autumn 2008 Tunstall Telehealthcare Times, that she thought of the term “Telehealthcare”

    [Dave – thanks for the amusing comment that followed, but I’ve used my editorial discretion and deleted it. Sorry! Steve]

  7. Jo

    If you really think that Tunstall were first to think of the term Telehealthcare, then you probably think that they were also the first to talk about smart sensors, WISE homes, fall detectors, bed occupancy sensors and Lifestyle Reassurance! Sometimes, it is the people who say things most loudly who are remembered more than those who were first to think and say them. This is the seventh rule of marketing.

  8. Mike

    It strikes me that this industry suffers what the Vacuum Cleaner industry did 20 years ago – in that everyone referred to a Vacuum Cleaner as a “Hoover” because they were the main players in the market. Until someone comes up with a “Dyson” alternative i think we will be stuck with most people still using the “Tunstall” brand when referring to Warden Call/Telecare systems.

  9. sue

    :sigh: Alas I dont know what all the fuss is about!! As a Nurse specialist in the field of telehealth, techonology in the health care profession has been slow to be taken up and accepted, I have worked for 6 years using telecare and telehealth we are joining the two areas together as the government are pushing for a union of social and health care it seems only logical to have a medical terminlogy accepted by health professionals that covers both areas.