NHS England to monitor effectiveness of CCGs' telehealth schemes

NHS England plans to measure the impact of telehealth and telecare services on patients' health to encourage CCGs to commission the technologies, a minister has revealed.

Norman Lamb: NHS England sees potential in telehealth (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)
Norman Lamb: NHS England sees potential in telehealth (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)

Commissioners will be handed a raft of metrics designed to show the impact of the technologies on health outcomes in a bid to stimulate uptake across the NHS in England.

GPs have expressed doubts over the potential of telehealth to improve patient care, and studies have questioned whether the health-tracking technologies are value for money for the NHS.

Health minister Norman Lamb revealed the plan in a response to a question from Labour's shadow health minister Liz Kendall MP (Lab, Leicester West), who had requested an estimate of telehealth users in each of the last four years.

Mr Lamb responded: 'NHS England is establishing a regular survey to gather data on the number of individuals who benefit from telehealth and telecare, and is also developing a set of consistent measures for commissioners which will be more meaningful and demonstrate the impact of these technologies on health outcomes.

'NHS England recognises the potential of these technologies to empower patients to take greater control over their conditions and provide care that is convenient, accessible and cost-effective.'

He added: 'The ambition is to create the right commissioning environment that supports and encourages the use of technology that can improve care and outcomes for patients.'

It follows an ongoing debate about the potential benefits and costs of telehealth and telecare services, following mixed results from a government-backed trial of telehealth equipment.

Estimates suggest 1.37m people were using telehealth, telecare and telecoaching services in England in 2011, according to the Telehealth Services Association industry body.

A GP survey in January this year found almost two-thirds of GPs do not believe the government's telehealth roll-out will improve care for patients. Only 22% said they believed the technologies can enhance patient care.

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