Today’s launch of the UK Government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences was headlined – according to the Independent newspaper – by praise from PM David Cameron for telehealth (as in remote patient monitoring), based on the results of the Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) project. He is reported as saying “Just look at our approach to tele-health [sic] – getting new technology into patients’ homes so they can be monitored remotely…We’ve trialled it, it’s been a huge success, and now we’re on a drive to roll this out nationwide…The aim – to improve three million lives over the next five years.”
The Department of Health’s own press release on the strategy only picks up telehealth in passing – item 5. “The Department of Health will accelerate the use of telehealth and telecare technologies” It will be interesting to see how it is going to do that given that the so-called roll out will be unfunded by the Department of Health (DH) which is currently trying to persuade the industry to finance a marketing campaign, Telecare Aware understands.
Readers will be interested to note that DH has also released the ‘headline telehealth findings’ of the WSD programme, which can be downloaded here. They are:
- 45% reduction in mortality rates
- 20% reduction in emergency admissions
- 15% reduction in A&E visits
- 14% reduction in elective admissions
- 14% reduction in bed days
- 8% reduction in tariff costs
The document says that the telecare results will take longer to come out and unfortunately refers to telehealth and telecare as assistive technology yet again.
[u][b]At last there is some clarity:[/b][/u]
Personal experience with my patients over the last 3 1/2 years has has convinced me that the evidence would emerge.
“Early evidence from a trial in Kent, Cornwall and the London Borough of Newham indicates a 45% reduction in mortality – equating to 120 people still being alive who would otherwise have died.
There were also significant reductions in emergency admissions (down 21%), planned hospital admissions (down 24%), visits to A&E (15%), days in hospital (14%) and “tariff” costs for treatment (8%).
“Patients are becoming less anxious, more confident, going out more and getting their lives back.”
There is also a clear role in the management of the patient with a new condition and the semi-acute and post discharge patient.
I am convinced the way doctors work will change as rapidly as the adoption of the mobile phone influenced the way the public communicated with text and e-mail and more recently the ‘smart phone’ era.
It would be good to know the absolute numbers and the number of patients for each benefit, an estimated monetary value for each benefit, the time periods and the telehealth and telecare costs and organisational change costs all for the stakeholders from the start of WSD that helped to realise the benefits.