Hunt aims for global telehealth domination

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 A new telehealth scheme has been launched by the DH to help an initial 100,000 patients with long-term conditions gain control over their own care.

Patients will get access to the use of electronic information and technology to help manage their health independently reducing the need to visit primary or secondary care facilities.

The scheme complements the NHS Mandate, which aims to provide telehealth access to three million people by 2017.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was “logical” that the NHS should use technology to help patients “manage their condition at home, free up a lot of time and save the NHS money.”

The initial roll out of the project will see seven NHS ‘pathfinders’ across the country agreeing contracts with telehealth suppliers. The project is like no other witnessed in the UK before and is the largest outside the US.

The DH aims to make England the world leader in telehealth in coming years.

“In a world where technology increasingly helps us manage our social and professional lives, it seems logical that it should also help people manage their health,” said Jeremy Hunt. “With our industry partners, we will make England a world leader on telehealth.

“Getting another 100,000 people to benefit from this technology is a very important step and I congratulate all involved on their hard work. I hope it will be the first of many steps towards our overall goal of getting three million people to benefit in the years to come.”

David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS Commissioning Board, said the introduction of the scheme had the potential to transform the lives of people with long-term conditions. “Telehealth not only saves lives, it transforms them, so that people with a long-term condition can feel in control of their life,” he said.

“The seven pathfinders that are offering this new technology to patients will give the NHS Commissioning Board important insight into how best to extend this option to any patient managing prolonged ill health or a chronic condition. 

“Working closely with the local commissioners involved and informed by their experience, we plan to promote vigorously the use of telehealth across England from next April.”