Telehealth Soapbox: The questions (and answers) are out there

Kishore Sankla, CEO of UK-based Solutions4Health, puts out a plea for proof of effectiveness through innovation and looks ahead to an era of consumer-driven services.

We in the industry are already fully convinced that telehealth works, and we have the satisfied customers to prove it.

The Whole System Demonstrator outcomes to date suggest that we have to focus in the right areas, aim for the right goals, and shout loud about our achievements in order to convince the payers of the enormous potential. Some really strong positive points have already emerged… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Regulation of the industry

Following the TA item Scummy website starts to make the case for telecare/telehealth industry regulation, Editor Steve points out in this shortest-ever Soapbox that, while formal regulation may be on the distant horizon (it may need legislation, and then it has to be policed, which is another issue), there is something that the Telecare Services Association (TSA) could do in just a few months that may even make statutory regulation unnecessary… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Why using PIR detectors to check on residents’ well being is profoundly dangerous and misguided

In response to yesterday’s item that included a reference to Contour Housing using a Tunstall PIR system to give an ‘I’m OK’ service, James Batchelor, Chief Executive of Alertacall, sets out why he believes that such a development is a bad move. Just because he has a commercial interest to defend – his company provides well being checks – this does not invalidate his points. If Tunstall, or any other supplier, would like to come back with a response, it will be published.

If you use passive infrared detectors (PIRs) to check on residents’ well being, then be prepared for them to passively kill someone.

With cutbacks to Supporting People funding housing providers are finding themselves in the predicament that they have fewer staff hours available to look after the needs of their sheltered residents. This risks eroding the life-saving daily contact of the ‘traditional’ warden-based morning call, which is time consuming for both the housing provider and its residents.

For decades this daily contact was the backbone of sheltered accommodation, real people checking on other real people. It provided an insight into individual resident’s care needs as they developed.

However, you cannot blame housing providers for (more…)

Terminology: ‘telecare’ v ‘assistive technology’

If you know anyone who persists in using the generic term ‘assistive technology’ (AT) when they mean something as specific as ‘telecare’, then direct them to the following excellent list of examples of AT from the British Assistive Technology Association. It is interesting that they have adopted the US term ‘PERS’ for telecare alarms, but we can live with that! Further Information on What Assistive Technology Is. Heads-up thanks to Guy Dewsbury.

UPDATE Fri 17th: A reader has reminded me (Ed. Steve) that I did not put the above into the context of the Foundation For Assistive Technology’s (FAST) definition, as supported by the AT Alliance. As I was involved in the development of the FAST definition in 2001 I fully support the AT Alliance’s comment that “to define the term too closely using illustrative lists of equipment ran the risk that any associated legislation, funding or regulatory measures failed to cover emerging technologies not included in the listing.” However, there are still people who refer to ‘telecare’ as if it were the whole of, and not a subset of, ‘assistive technology’ and one wonders why the message still has not got through. That’s the reason why I liked the BATA page for giving so many examples.

Telehealth Soapbox: The NHS can simply not afford to continue to do more of the same

Dr Julian Neal is a GP in Portsmouth (UK) and clinical adviser to Telehealth Solutions. In this article he picks his way through the Whole Systems Demonstrator (WSD) trial results published in the BMJ and looks forward to a more positive future – if telehealth (as in remote vital signs monitoring) is given the right conditions.

Following some frankly over-optimistic headline findings published by the UK Government in December 2011, there has been a great deal of publicity about telehealth during the last few months. Much has been cautious and some openly negative. Even the BMJ has got in on the act, publishing last month the first of five detailed papers from the WSD trial to assess the effect of telehealth on the use of secondary care and mortality. A total of 3,154 patients were recruited into this trial, approximately half of whom were provided with a variety of telehealth interventions and studied for a year. This was followed up by a thoughtful BMJ editorial a few weeks later by amongst others, Josip Car from Imperial College, London, the main thrust of which was combining caution with a need for more observational analysis.

The main findings from the first publication in the BMJ are interesting… (more…)