Tunstall secures additional £20 million from Charterhouse: implications?

Breaking News  Tunstall Healthcare Group quietly announced on 25 September an additional investment of £20 million from its private equity owner, Charterhouse Capital Partners. Our readers know from our May and July articles the business challenges Tunstall has faced. We have particularly focused on–as have Bloomberg in May, this Editor and our Founder/EIC Emeritus Steve Hards over the years–on the heavy burden of Tunstall’s debt service, multiple management changes on both sides of the Atlantic, and a decided ‘failure to launch’ in the US market.

Readers of the Sunday Times woke up to this headline and lede (what news writers use to introduce the topic and entice you to read on):

Headline: £20m to steady ship at Tunstall

Lede: CHARTERHOUSE Capital Partners, one of the City’s oldest and most secretive private equity firms, has been forced to provide a multimillion-pound lifeline to another of its investments. A fortnight ago, Charterhouse ploughed £20m into Tunstall, a healthcare technology company that makes equipment to monitor the elderly and sick at home.

Insider Media Limited (business news review) had a more measured take in its ‘Yorkshire News’ section:

Headline: BACKERS PUMP £20M INTO HEALTHCARE FIRM (more…)

Tunstall launches Advisory Service for ‘telehealthcare’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Tunstall-Bsp63SfCYAETk3Q.jpg” thumb_width=”170″ /]Tunstall Healthcare UK last week announced the addition of an advisory service to help commissioners (CCGs, borough councils) and providers better understand, design, deliver and deploy what they’ve coined ‘telehealthcare’, which is plain ol’ telehealth to The Rest of Us. The Advisory Service will be managed by a team of specialists with clinical, technology, training, implementation and business intelligence expertise. The illustration to the left indicates their ‘swirl of disciplines.’ An interesting quote from the release: “According to NHS England, nearly a third of patients aged 75 or over have two or more long-term conditions; the overall cost of care for a person with multiple conditions is £2,500 per year.” (In US terms, that seems vanishingly small, except when you start multiplying…Ed.D.) In the UK system, commissioners are supposed to stay vendor-neutral so to this Editor there is a question on the objectivity of the advice given. On the clinical side, how many doctors and nurses will be engaged by the Advisory Service? The release also implies that the service will be available internationally, but materials are UK only. Website, release, brochure.

Another indication that Tunstall is trying to broaden itself beyond frameworks, fees and NHS funding is their organization of a European Symposium in Barcelona a few weeks ago.  Hot topics were integrating services, enabling self-care and self-management for people with long-term health and care needs, increasing awareness of these service among carers, and of course cost management. Tunstall blog.

According to this GP article, GPs are not impressed by telehealth. They “have expressed doubts over the potential of telehealth to improve patient care, and studies have questioned whether the health-tracking technologies are value for money for the NHS.” Thus the Department of Health will encourage commissioners to use telehealth by surveying telehealth and telecare users, as well as developing a set of metrics for commissioners which will demonstrate their impact on health outcomes. The Telehealth Service Association (TSA) estimates are that 1.37m people in 2011 used telehealth, telecare and telecoaching services in England. Certainly Tunstall’s move in this area is designed to take advantage of Government action in this area and commissioners’ increased accountability.

Don’t be put off by the title, or the conclusion, of this review of reviews

Whenever I see the word “telehealthcare” I feel there should be an ® or perhaps a ™ after it as it so often appears in connection with a particular organisation. However no such connection is evident is this paper entitled “The Impact of Telehealthcare on the Quality and Safety of Care: A Systematic Overview” (published on the PLOS ONE site), especially as the overall conclusion is far from that often found in articles toting that word:

“Policymakers and planners need to be aware that investment in telehealthcare will not inevitably yield clinical or economic benefits. It is likely that the greatest gains will be achieved for patients at highest risk of serious outcomes. There is a need for longer-term studies in order to determine whether the benefits demonstrated in time limited trials are sustained.”

If you stop there though, you miss some very important points (more…)