Telecare and telehealth coming together in Norfolk (UK)

With a bit of editing and a slightly revamped commentary this video could become a useful introduction to telecare and telehealth for the public. However, people who know me will anticipate that I have a huge problem with Norfolk’s conflation of ‘assistive technology’ with telecare and telehealth, hence I’ve also categorised the video under ‘terminology’.

Let’s get this straight: ‘assistive technology’ is a very broad term for any equipment that helps compensate for some form of functional impairment. Or, as the Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST) defines it, “Assistive Technology (AT) is any product or service designed to enable independence for disabled and older people.” A few shots at the beginning of the video imply that they understand this, but it soon slips into referring to the telecare and telehealth as AT. Although can be regarded as a subset of AT, there is no implication that AT has a remote component in any way, which is the key defining characteristic of telecare, telehealth, telemedicine, etc. When I was contracted to work at the Department of Health I frequently reminded civil servants and Ministers not to refer to telecare as ‘assistive technology’ and I thought that eventually the message did get through. At least by the time the Preventative Technology Grant conditions were published. And now it raises its head again…

OK, rant over! My thanks to Saneth Wijayaratna of Telemedcare Ltd for alerting me to the 7 minute video.




Terminology: Telehealth, telemedicine, telehomecare and telespeech

This post continues the focus on the terminology problems.

Watch this 6½ minute video of US Senator for South Dakota John Thune advocating (successfully) an increase in funding for telehealth in October 2007. It is interesting to observe his superordinate use of the term ‘telehealth’, with ‘telemedicine’ sometimes seeming to be used interchangeably, and sometimes subordinately to it when contrasted with ‘telehomecare”.

I’m grateful to Marnee Brick, a speech therapist, for spotting this video. As an ex-speech and language therapist I am delighted to see that she is promoting online therapy. See her site: TinyEYE.

However, I do have a problem with her construction of online speech therapy under ‘telehealth’ in her blog. As I’ve mentioned previously, the terminology issue here is not with ‘tele’. It’s what comes after: is speech therapy is a health or an education-related discipline – or something else? This was a debate going on in the UK from at least the ’60s. She also uses the term ‘telespeech’ and ‘telepractice’.

Tech Savvy Elderly May Boost Telecare Market

As regular Telecare Aware readers will know, Wireless Healthcare is a favourite source of articles, so it is a pity that in this commercial report they have produced they chose to perpetuate the use of the pejorative term ‘elderly’ instead of the less value-laden ‘older people’. Wireless Healthcare’s story on the report [Page URL “” reported to be compromised by malware 16 March 2015].

Telecare/telehealth terminology in the wild

As part of the terminology campaign, I am posting links to real-world stories that illustrate ways in which terms related to this field are being used. My intention in highlighting these items is not to imply that the people who use the terminology in that way are somehow wrong: they are entitled to use it in any way they see fit. My intention is to say to the worldwide telecare/telehealth community “Look – people are using the words in these ways. Is it helpful, or not? Is there a need to have some internationally agreed definitions to refer to?”

Often, it seems to me, the problem arises not with the use of ‘tele’, which means ‘at a distance’ or ‘remote’, which is a common denominator in all these things, or even with the prefix ‘e’ to denote ‘electronic’ or ‘internet’, but with the other part of the usage – what is ‘health’, ‘care’ or ‘medicine’ in these contexts?

Here are five items to start off with. When you have finished browsing them, follow the link in the navigation bar to the main Terminology page.


No Clear Consensus on Telemedicine Market Size

“…telehealth (also called eHealth) marketplace — which includes telemedicine…”
AMD Telemedicine press release

Assembly of First Nations and Canada Health Infoway Funding Decision Transforms First Nations Access to Health Care

“Currently about 100 First Nations across Canada use telehealth technologies for clinical consultation, continuing professional education, health promotion, health care management and administration.”

German industry group publishes telemedicine standards

“Leading German electronic association the VDE has published a new set of standards for telemedicine to spur the development of telecare and telemonitoring.”

Birmingham PCT to extend telecare to 27,000

“Birmingham East and North PCT together with NHS Direct and Pfizer Health Solutions launched Birmingham OwnHealth, a nurse-led telephone care management programme, in April 2006.”

One call a day…

“…telephone checking and visiting services in Orange were desperate for volunteers…relies on a Telecare call every day to check on her welfare.”

Terminolology highlighting campaign

As promised in the ‘themes for 2008’, I’m turning the spotlight this year on the issues surrounding the use of telecare, telehealth, telemedicine, etc. and the taxonomy of services and devices in this field. Make use of the new starting page (added to the navigation bar above) and of the new ‘Terminology’ category which will make it easier to search for all related posts.

Take a few minutes to read the introductory page, and then follow the link to an article that gets us off to a great start.