able to live with multiple and contradictory notions heads swirling around their heads, so no one seemed to mind.
Professor Stan Newman, still gagged by the conventions of peer-reviewed journal publishing and still not, therefore, able to reveal any significant WSD results, talked about results that have been in the public domain for some time. These concern the numbers of GPs and patients recruited into the WSD trials. The most striking finding was the lack of people in the cohorts who required both telehealth and telecare equipment. “We couldn’t find them” he said. Attendees were left with the impression that either people with both needs do not exist in the population or that services tend to ‘prescribe’ what they know; either telecare or telehealth. However, I gleaned outside the session that they were there, but they were people who were particularly prone to decline to participate because they feared that answering the study’s health questionnaires was a threat to their social care services and benefits.
Clearly, there is going to be much debate over interpretation when the full results are published.
The session by Professor Jeremy Wyatt was more thought-provoking than its title (Using Evidence to innovate in clinical practice and self care: role of randomised control trials) led one to expect. He emphasised that amongst all the data analysis the question ‘What does this mean to the patients?’ needs to be asked. For example, for a particular set of telehealth users, the technology may enable them to make more informed rejection of treatment, leading to an increase in mortality. Without understanding that, the researchers may assume the increase to be a negative outcome. If that were the case, how would you build a business case on the evidence? [Head swirling, editor Steve retreats to bed.]