What it takes to make telehealth really work

In line with my fellow editor, forgive this editor engaging in a little nostalgia – going back to 2006, when the Whole System Demonstrator was a still a wonderful idea, before the competing forces of academia and management consultancy put short-term financial gain before long term patient outcome improvement. Those were the days when we genuinely believed that recording vital signs was what it was all about.

Move on nine years and it’s clear from the American Heart Association review referred to in this column recently, and subsequent articles, that one key success factor is drip-fed education. To quote:

“The amount of information that must be conveyed and the support that is necessary to counsel and motivate individuals to engage in behaviors to prevent CVD are far beyond what can be accomplished in the context of face-to-face clinical consultations or through traditional channels such as patient education leaflets,” the researchers say. “Mobile technologies have the potential to overcome these limitations and to transform the delivery of health-related messages and ongoing interventions targeting behavior change.”

This is underlined by a recent study of attempting to control hypertension using just text messaging, which was far from an unqualified success.

Another major driver of course is cost saving, as demonstrated by (more…)

Encouraging signs of change

A couple of recent articles have given me hope, after a really depressing session at my local surgery today for an NHS Health Check.  It began when I spotted two adjacent notices in the waiting room, the first encouraging patients to access the surgery’s online facilities, and the second banning the use of mobile devices. It descended further when after producing the form I’d been asked to complete about height, weight, alcohol consumption, family history of disease etc., I was asked every question all over. When I protested, I was told that as most patients don’t fill in the form, or forget it, they ask patients anyway. (Discretion suggested it probably wasn’t the right time to suggest that perhaps that was why people don’t fill in forms…)

However the first article, by Zahid Latif, who heads up healthcare for the Technology Strategy Board, indicates a restlessness with the current use of patient data that appeals to me.  He goes on to explain how the projects in the TSB’s dallas programme (more…)