Widespread remote GP consultations getting closer; no shortage of implementation advice

Following our previous item on the topic, on January 16th, Tim Kelsey made it very clear to this editor at a PICTFOR event that the £1b promised to GPs for premises improvement included a strong requirement that GPs also invest in electronic support, including remote consultation technology.

It is therefore particularly pleasing to see in yesterday’s Pulse Today, an item on a Skype trial in Central London that both patients and GPs seem to love. Some key quotes:

Almost all patients surveyed about their experience of the remote consultation service said they ‘would use it again’ (95%).

Although patients were warned that ‘the security of Skype isn’t 100%’, 83% also said (more…)

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (UK telehealth)

60 Second GP today points to an article on what looks to be essentially a Simple Telehealth-type application, in this case a GP-led internet-based programme to encourage weight loss among obese patients in West Oxfordshire.  What makes it newsworthy is that it never mentions telehealth, yet extolls the benefits in a manner that any telehealth project or programme manager, eager for clinical acceptance will instantly recognise, such as:

  • “An internet-based programme can involve GPs in the weight loss of a large number of patients in a cost-effective manner.”
  • “The main benefit of the programme is that it dramatically reduces the cost of face-to-face time with patients, freeing up healthcare professionals for other activities.”

Does this mean that the good GPs of West Oxfordshire have taken onboard a previous Telecareaware post “When mHealth and telehealth become ‘just healthcare’” ?

I somehow doubt it – however the article is nevertheless recommended reading for anyone wanting to sell successfully a telehealth programme to clinicians without ever mentioning the ‘t’ word.

Also worth pointing out is that a feature of the programme was to introduce some gamification – in this case via a league table of weight losers, where anonymised patients reported changes in weight, so other could compare achievements.  Perhaps that’s why the authors, Professor David Brodie, Emma Doyle, Dr Jey Radhakrishnan and Dr David Shaw, report that “One of the most striking outcomes was the high number of men who lost weight (almost 90%), because men are often more reluctant to become involved in weight loss programmes”? (For another great example of gamification applied to weight loss, without the technology, see Fitfans in Hull.)

Sadly there is no information in the article on the size of the programme…and the implication seems to be that having been shown to be successful it was discontinued after 12 months.

Soapbox: Further thoughts on CarelineUK, O2 & WSD

The many, excellent, comments on O2’s withdrawal of their current telecare & telehealth offerings in the UK market, most notably from my fellow editor Alasdair Morrison, have prompted further thoughts on the post about CarelineUK’s 25th anniversary earlier today: what will CarelineUK,  and other organisations like it, look like in 25 years’ time?

Perhaps the most significant change that appears to be coming in the area of telemonitoring is  (more…)