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Telehealth project ends

The first telehealth pilot project based in an extra care scheme in Warwickshire has finished in Stratford-upon-Avon.

“Six customers at Briar Croft took part in the pilot project. The aim of telehealth is to reduce doctors and hospital visits and therefore improve the quality of life,” said Kara-Louise Dutton, Assistive Technology Development Officer at Orbit Independent Living.

Philip Withers enjoyed being part of the project, “The daily telehealth checks gave me peace of mind to know that should something change with my health, my GP would be notified. I am a carer myself so it was comforting to know that someone was checking on my health. It’s important that I am fit and well.”

Telehealth allows vital health checks (such as blood pressure, weight, ECG readings etc) to be carried out and sent electronically to GPs without the need for patients to make an appointment or visit a clinic. People are taught to do the tests themselves using a small unit and the measurements are automatically sent to a monitoring centre via a telephone line. If the data moves beyond individually set parameters for each patient, the local GP practice is alerted and appropriate action taken.

Dr Cristina Ramos, Partner GP at Rother House Medical Centre, said, “Telehealth has helped us to monitor patients with certain conditions more closely. This has enabled us to pick up and treat symptoms promptly which may help to prevent admission to hospital for patients in certain circumstances.

“The pilot was successful in that it enabled us to experience the systems that sit behind the patient. We were able to gain confidence with these systems. We were restricted by the patients who were included in the pilot (control group of Orbit Heart of England residents). Without this restriction we may have been able to select patients who would benefit more widely from using telehealth.”

Tom Ganner, Practice Manager at Rother House Medical Centre, said “Instinctively, telehealth feels the right thing to be doing. But it is important to make sure that it fits in with the systems that we currently use to make it safe and reliable. There is no doubt that as technology improves, with patients and clinicians gaining more confidence in these systems, telehealth and telecare will play an increasing role in health care provision.”

The project was based at Briar Croft, Orbit Heart of England’s first mixed tenure Independent Living with Care scheme. It was a partnership between Orbit Independent Living, Rother House Medical Centre, Docobo, Baywater Healthcare (formerly Air Products Homecare) and Choice Health Care Group Ltd.

The service is managed by Baywater Healthcare, formerly Air Products Homecare, at its monitoring centre and linked directly to Rother House Medical Centre.

There are currently 15 million people in the UK suffering from conditions that cannot be cured but can be managed through medication. It is these patients who can be remotely monitored by doctors and nurses who will be able to view patients’ vital signs. These patients take up three quarters of all in-patient bed days, two thirds of all outpatient appointments and more than half of all GP visits, accounting for around 70% of the total spend on health and social care.

Shawn Lainchbury, Business Development Manager, Baywater Healthcare, said, “Telehealth services have enormous potential to reduce demand for hospital beds. The service provided to residents at Briar Croft is designed to be easy to operate. It is totally managed and links directly to Rother House Medical Centre so patients can be sure to get any attention they need. We find that patients respond well to being given an opportunity to self-monitor their health and this has a positive effect on their sense of wellbeing.”