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John Cruickshank
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Telehealth revolution is predicted

The rising number of people with long term conditions (LTCs), such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease, could overwhelm NHS resources, according to a new report from 2020health.org. Their report Healthcare without walls – A framework for delivering telehealth at scale’ warns that the current NHS approach to delivering care to people with LTCs is unsustainable both in terms of cost and quality.

The report, which was sponsored by several firms with an interest in the field including BT and iSoft, claims that telehealth could save the NHS up to £1bn annually, as well as improving patients’ quality of life.

The report claims that the scale of the problem is immense:

  • A rise of 23 percent in LTC patients will occur over the next 25 years
  • LTC patients account for 31 percent of the population, 52 percent of  all GP appointments and 65 percent of all outpatient appointments
  • Three out of every five people aged over 60 in England have an LTC, while many of the young obese could develop diabetes, heart disease and arthritis in their 30’s

123bThe report’s key recommendations are:

  • Amend tariffs/incentive schemes to recognise and reward telehealth-and teleconsultation-enabled services on a consistent basis across the NHS
  • Create improved public awareness around telehealth and its ability to enable better self-care – leading to systemic improvements across health and social care
  • Establish a national framework of support and expertise in telehealth to share best practice

The report also demands urgent Ministerial support to facilitate the use of the remote capture and relay of health information from the home for clinical review and early intervention.

2020health.org director Julia Manning, speaking to The Guardian, called on the government to “grasp the nettle” and make telehealth a national priority.  “Implemented effectively, the remote capture of information from patients in the home, distance learning and consultations can all improve the patient’s care and quality of life by reducing the need for appointments and emergency admissions to hospital,” Manning said.

“It also means nurses and GPs time can be focused on genuine needs 
instead of taking routine measurements.”

Read the full report online at 2020health.org

Published on: December 9, 2010

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