Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for Care Services, has reaffirmed the government's commitment to mainstreaming telehealth and telecare services, to help ensure a better quality of care and greater independence for people with long-term conditions.
During his keynote speech at the International Congress of Telehealth and Telecare run by The King's Fund, Mr Burstow stated that an integrated care approach using telehealth and telecare solutions could save the NHS up to £1.2bn over five years, improving the lives of 3 million people by increasing independence and reducing time spent in hospital. He pointed out that currently, 7 out of 10 in-patient beds are occupied by people with long-term conditions, with approximately 70p of every NHS pound being spent looking after them.
Mr Burstow referenced the work Tunstall is doing in partnership with NHS Gloucestershire, removing up-front costs of telehealthcare to help mainstream the service in the county. Tunstall is working with NHS Gloucestershire to implement a large-scale telehealth programme to support patients with long-term conditions, providing a managed system of care and response to improve patient outcomes and reduce emergency hospital admissions.
Paul Burstow MP said:
Few people buy an iPhone for cash up-front, they pay for it through a monthly contract. So why couldn't a community nursing provider pay for a remote blood pressure monitor in a similar way? We're already seeing exactly this in places like Gloucestershire, where the PCT is working with Tunstall, one of the largest telecare and telehealth companies.
Tunstall covers the up-front costs such as clinical engagement, pathway re-design and training. They supply NHS Gloucestershire on a per-patient, per-month basis. Any cost savings the PCT makes through things such as reduced hospital admissions, can be re-invested back into frontline NHS services. It's a win-win-win situation; NHS Gloucestershire avoids the need for large up-front costs, the supplier builds a relationship with a customer it would otherwise not have had and the patient gets their life back.
Linda Prosser, Locality Commissioning Director at NHS Gloucestershire said:
The provision of telehealth in Gloucestershire has helped our patients to better manage their own conditions, alleviating the pressure on our health and social care services. To know that NHS Gloucestershire's telehealth programme is regarded as a benchmark is a significant achievement for us, and we're proud to have the support of Mr Burstow and the Department of Health.
David Cockayne, UK Health and Social Care Director at Tunstall said:
Our work with NHS Gloucestershire and with many other organisations in the UK has shown the value of telehealth as a means of supporting independent living and improving the management of long-term conditions. The Department of Health's support is a great endorsement for our partnership approach in developing innovative solutions to help mainstream telehealthcare services.
The Department of Health (DH) has been working with industry and medical professionals to raise awareness for the effectiveness of telehealth and telecare. The DH established the Whole System Demonstrator programme (WSD) to evaluate how the use of telehealth and telecare services can support people with long-term health and care needs to live more independently.
Key findings from the WSD programme include a 15% reduction in A&E visits, a 20% reduction in emergency admissions, a 14% reduction in elective admissions, and a 45% reduction in mortality rates.