100,000 NHS patients to get doctor by broadband next year

By Dyenamic Solitions - Last updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Up to 100,000 NHS patients will be able to use the internet to manage their health problems from their own homes next year.100,000 NHS patients to get doctor by broadband next yearThe ‘telehealth’ initiative will mean people with long term problems like diabetes and heart disease do not have to go to their local surgery or hospital for routine checks.

Instead, they will be able to take readings of health measures like blood pressure and blood glucose levels themselves at home, log them with doctors and nurses online, and converse with them via the web.

Ministers have such faith in the telehealth initiative that they want three million people to be using it by 2017.

In the first tranche of the roll-out announced, people in seven areas in England including Cornwall, Yorkshire and Worcestershire, will gain access in 2013.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said: “People with long-term conditions see doctors and nurses more than most of us – £7 out of every £10 spent on the health budget go towards supporting them.  I want to free people with long term conditions from the constant merry-go-round of doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.”

He said it would also “free up a lot of time and save the NHS money”.

At the moment only 5,000 use telehealth in England so this is a massive expansion.

Ministers are strongly supportive and cite a trial of 6,000 people which they say showed emergency admissions were a fifth lower in those volunteers given telehealth, while death rates were 45 per cent lower.

However, critics claim these figures were “cherry-picked” and that a more thorough analysis of the Whole System Demonstrator trial, as it is called, reveals doubt over telehealth’s clinical effectiveness.

In August, lead investigator Adam Steventon said it showed a particular group – those with “multiple chronic conditions” – were more likely to die if they used telehealth, than normal care.

Questions have also been asked about whether telehealth is value for money.

Dr Margaret McCartney, a Glasgow GP who is sceptic of the project, said: “I can’t understand why we are spending so much on unproven technology while we know where the real stresses and gaps are for people with long term conditions.  We should value direct patient care far more. The best ‘telehealth’ device we have so far is the phone.”

Mr Hunt: emphasised: “Using telehealth is always a choice and it won’t be right for everyone. But for people with long term conditions it could give them the support they need to stay independent and have as good a quality of life as they possibly can.”

Michelle Mitchell, director general of Age UK, said: “Whilst telehealth is not a replacement for face-to-face appointments and direct care, it could give many people a real chance of taking control of their health and improving wellbeing.”

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/100000-to-get-doctor-by-broadband-in-2013

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