Three million patients to get telecare, DH pledges

The DH will roll out telehealth and telecare services to three million people with long-term conditions by 2016, care services minister Paul Burstow has said.

Telecare equipment in a person’s home can support independent living (Photograph: SPL)

The announcement comes after early results of the world’s first RCT of the technologies suggested they could cut mortality by 45% and lead to a 21% fall in emergency admissions.

Visiting Cornwall on Tuesday, one of the three PCTs that took part in the trial, Mr Burstow said: ‘The trials of telehealth and telecare have shown how people with long-term conditions can live more independently, reducing the time they have to spend in hospital and improving their quality of life.’

He continued: ‘The feedback I have heard from people in Cornwall today has been incredibly positive. They were absolutely clear that high-tech healthcare being used here has improved their lives for the better.’

Mr Burstow said the government would work with industry, the NHS and local councils to ‘change the lives’ of three million people across England over the next five years using the technology.

Telehealth uses electronic equipment to read vital health signs such as pulse and blood oxygen levels. These readings are monitored by a health professional for signs of illness.

In contrast, telecare is electronic equipment used in a person’s home to support independent living, including personal pendant alarms to be used in case of a fall.

At least 15.4m people in England live with at least one long term condition. Government figures suggest they account for around 75% of all inpatient bed days, 65% of outpatient appointments and 55% of all GP appointments.

The RCT, known as the Whole System Demonstrator Programme, tested telehealth and telecare devices using 6,191 patients from 238 GP practices in Newham in east London, Kent and Cornwall.

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