Editor Steve grieves for the days when telehealth in the UK had a bright future…
There is a deep irony in the latest move by the UK’s Department of Health (DH) to encourage general practitioners to adopt telehealth (remote care).
Perhaps it is because the health ministers and/or civil servants have realised that the Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) programme results have gone down like the proverbial lead balloon that they have turned to the thing which has ‘traditionally’ motivated GPs to change – money. But, as the GPs see it, the scheme they have come up with involves making them adopt unproven telehealth with inappropriate patients to regain a small part of the money that will be taken taken away from them by one of DH’s other moves involving the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). The following item from GP Online sums up what is happening: Telehealth DES plans are ‘political interference’, warns GPC. UPDATE: Department of Health webpage setting out the contract change proposals.
At any other time in the past 10 years the backing of DH for telehealth adoption would probably have been a ‘Good Thing’. But now, in the context of deeply unpopular changes to the way the NHS is structured and the prospect of a huge funding squeeze for the foreseeable future, anything that DH or Ministers are seen to be promoting will be viewed with deep suspicion. As a result, encouragement in the form of Ministerial support for the 3millionlives initiative was bad enough, but attempting to coerce GPs is surely the kiss of death for telehealth adoption.
11 December 2012