Vast majority of UK population unaware of telehealth

The vast majority of people in the UK do not understand the term 'telehealth' or its potential for supporting people with long-term conditions, research shows.

Telehealth allows remote monitoring of patients
Telehealth allows remote monitoring of patients

A survey conducted by pollsters YouGov for the National Telehealth Forum found that of 2,066 UK adults who responded, 90% had never heard of telehealth.

The DH is currently embarking on a mass roll-out of the technology under its Three Million Lives campaign.

In March 2012, then care services minister Paul Burstow said telecare and telehealth devices could save the NHS up to £1.2bn over five years.

However, research commissioned by the DH found that at 2009 equipment costs, the cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) of telehealth was £92,000 - three times the level considered by NICE to be cost-effective.

The YouGov telehealth poll found 92% of those aged 55 and over had never heard of the term 'telehealth', although prevalence of long-term conditions rises among older age groups.

A total of 15 million UK people have a long-term condition, and 60% of people aged 65 or over are among those affected.

Although one in 10 of all respondents said they had heard of telehealth, only 4% said they knew what it was. A similar survey conducted last year found 9% of people had heard of telehealth, with 5% knowing what it was.

Simon O’Neill, director of health intelligence at Diabetes UK, said: ‘This research indicates there is still a long way to go in helping to understand telehealth and its benefits. We know of people who refer to a telehealth service as ‘their guardian angel’ and yet awareness of its benefits is still very low. The Telehealth Forum is determined to correct that.’

Some people who said they had heard of telehealth believed it was a new programme on TV or referred to how much television they watched.

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