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.