Telecare Soapbox: Telehealth apples and pears

Independent consultant cardiologist Dr Lance Forbat, whose work using telehealth monitoring Telecare Aware has reported a number of times, responds to the recent headline on the Mayo Clinic study that telehealth monitoring appeared to treble death rates and points out that in comparing monitoring people at home with and without telehealth monitoring they were not comparing like-for-like.

If I do a twice daily ward round on my patients and look at the physiological signs recorded by the nurse and take a history, possibly pick up on unnoticed issues that my years of experience detect, I would like to think I make an impact on the outcome of patients’ illnesses as well as their sense of well being… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: What should the role of the Telecare Services Association be? (UK)

Editor Steve Hards asks if it is time for a reconsideration of the role of the Telecare Services Association (TSA).

With yesterday’s news of the draft EU Telehealth Code of Practice (including telecare) some of the TSA’s members are wondering why it is about to spend up to £25,000 of their money developing one of its own to extend its existing Telecare Code of Practice.

But there is a deeper question that they and the TSA Board members should be considering… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Is mHealth/eHealth becoming a ‘Field of Dreams’?

Editor Donna muses on the link in the telecare chain where it can all fall down – the person who is expected to use the device.

“If you build it, they will come”–misattributed to the film Field of Dreams, 1989

We can get telehealth and mhealth into the home care or healthcare provider, payer, ‘app store’ or ‘ecosystem’ (the ‘push’), but you cannot force the client or patient to use it.

The buzz may be about how slick a system or app is, how to sell it to the C-suite or even the Four Big Questions, but have we forgotten someone? We assume that end users/clients/patients will be delighted to use our wonderful devices, in the way they should be used–consistently, correctly, continuously until they… expire. Step back and think about human behavior, however, and you realize…that cannot be true. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: 3millionlives Plan D: Money from councils and the NHS

After my (editor Steve’s) comment about ‘fairy dust’ (3millionlives: Plan B and Plan C) certain Telecare Aware readers asked where is my Plan D? It is not fully formed, but here’s the outline.

The key is to get the Department of Health (DH) to exert some monetary influence.

However, we know that in view of the savings the public sector is going to have to make over the next 5 years (£20 billion for the NHS alone) DH is not going to come up with any new funding…[read more] (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: The security of telecare confidential information

Guy Dewsbury, Managing Director of gdewsbury, which is a freelance specialist technology writing service and consultancy, takes a thoughtful look at data security in telecare call centres and asks a few pertinent questions.

Let me state at the off that there are some really great call centres that I have been privileged to work with and some others I have become acquainted with that deserve high praise.

That said, when you pick up the phone and speak to your bank, you feel protected… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: TSA2011 losing touch and losing relevance?

This Soapbox is published anonymously for someone who wished to express some observations and feedback for the conference organisers and the TSA membership without compromising his company. Please note Telecare Aware’s Anonymity Policy (Soapbox Section right sidebar).

Given the economic climate, TSA will undoubtedly report excellent results for its 2011 conference. And with so many corporate sponsors, it will certainly have been a great financial success. But careful analysis of the attendees listed reveals a concerning trend (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Complicity between UK telehealth commissioners and providers

If ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’ telehealth commissioners and providers have a responsibility to make sure that in matters of medical devices all regulations – many of them legal requirements – are being adhered to. Failure to do so on one side or the other implies a willingness to be complicit in their breaking and it unfairly tilts the market against those companies that abide by the rules.

This Soapbox item is timely given that there is due to be a big push for telehealth in the UK on the back of the WSD programme results. It is written by an experienced professional in the telehealth field who, because of his or her position cannot reveal his or her identity. It will also become obvious to readers why he or she cannot name the ‘guilty parties’. However, there are questions at the end which service commissioners should now use to identify whether they are dealing with a company that is breaking the regulations.

There is now no excuse for either the companies involved not to correct the situation or for commissioners to continue to put their investment of public money at risk.

Steve Hards, Editor

Readers who prefer to read this long item as a PDF can download it here.


While the world holds its breath waiting for the imminent final revelation of the Department of Health’s Whole System Demonstrators (WSD) results, the global mass of telecare and telehealth manufacturers, distributors, resellers and newcomers are revving up their trucks full of boxes and briefing their marketing departments – all believing that a ‘tsunami of sales’ are just around the corner!

Storm brewing… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Twisted tender tendrils (UK)

Editor Steve asks why we still see tendering fiascos when so much experienced support is available.

The UK has a long history of both legislation and experience in relation to the procurement of publicly funded services. There is a veritable industry of advisers, consultants and lawyers who can be consulted on how to manage the process to stay legal and to get an effective result. Why then do we still see some tendering fiascos?

For example, there was… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Clients who need, but decline, telecare

Trevor Drage, Assistive Technology Manager Adult Care and Support, in Cornwall, UK, chews over the issues of potential telecare clients who refuse the service and how to reduce refusal rates.

“No thanks, please give the equipment to someone who needs it”.

From time-to-time we have clients referred for telecare who would clearly benefit from it, but who decline the service. They have the right to do that, of course, but there is always the lingering doubt about why they would do so and whether we could have done more to sell (in the nicest possible way) the service to them. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Leaping from a towering inferno is no longer my worst nightmare

Editor Steve reflects on a disturbing experience and its implications for telecare.

In the ’80s I saw a fire training film where people were jumping from a tall, burning hotel in Brazil. Reinforced by images from 9/11, having to make such a leap had always been my worst nightmare. You know…you are falling and think “this wasn’t such a good idea…I’ve changed my mind…” But there’s no pause button. You are totally out of control AND there is time to contemplate it…

That was my idea of horror until eight weeks, three days, six and a half hours ago from the time of writing. At that time something else became my worst nightmare… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Telehealth for the intellectually disabled

About the author: Andrea Swayne is a gerontologist who received her M.A. from Bethel University (Minnesota). She possesses 25 years of experience serving seniors at all levels of the care continuum. Starting with a B.A. in music therapy from Western Illinois University, Andrea worked with the intellectually disabled along with many other populations in need. She first became familiar with telehealth while piloting remote sensor-based behavioral monitoring in the early 2000’s for Volunteers of America. Currently, Andrea is a Director of Partner Services for WellAWARE Systems, which proactively identifies variations in key wellness indicators such as sleep quality, bathroom usage and activity level.

In our short history, telehealth has primarily concentrated efforts on individuals who are aged and who are attempting to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible in their least restrictive environments. Least restrictive environments for the aged include (but are not limited to) assisted living facilities, independent living apartments or the client’s primary residence with services provided by a home health agency.

I believe that another population could significantly benefit from telehealth: the intellectually disabled (ID). (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Philips Lifeline AutoAlert – where’s the evidence?

Editor Steve frets about the lack of information on the accuracy of the Philips Lifeline AutoAlert and says it’s about time they published some data.

Back in March 2010, I welcomed the introduction of the Philips Lifeline with AutoAlert (for falls when the person cannot press the pendant button), particularly as a long-needed acknowledgement in the industry that traditional pendant alarms have considerable shortcomings. Philips puts nail in pendant alarm coffin. I also noted that, considering the notorious unreliability of fall detectors, Philips must be anticipating a large number of false positive alerts because there was a 30 second delay built in to enable users to cancel the autoalert.

In January this year Philips… (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Turning back time with Fast Company and Care Innovations

Wondering what the GE-contributed part of Care Innovations has been up to? This short article in Fast Company online should have been far more informative. Instead, it skids into the journalistic equivalent of a brick wall. Its sole subject: QuietCare–originally developed by another company and acquired by GE. Its tone: recycled from 2006-7. And sadly filled with inaccuracies. It’s making Ed. Donna itching to rant, because she was quite close to QuietCare as it developed from 2006 into early 2009 as part of the founding company, Living Independently Group through the early days of the GE acquisition, and knows better. (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Northern Ireland. We announce the winner and losers

Editor Steve predicts the future…

When – if – the procurement process for the Northern Ireland Remote Monitoring Service that is being conducted by the European Centre for Connected Health (ECCH) is ever drawn to a conclusion, there will be no winners. Even if the contract is awarded.

Well, there will be one minor winner, the consultancy that was paid to produce a report on the short listed companies, way back at in the early days of the tender. That report will make interesting reading when it is eventually released.

As for the rest, there are no winners. When the contract is awarded to the TF3 consortium (comprising Tunstall, Fold Housing Association Limited and Silicon and Software Systems Limited), as it surely will be, given the (more…)

Telecare Soapbox: Evaluation of telehealth services: How good is ‘good enough’?

David Barrett, Lecturer in Telehealth at the University of Hull takes a hard look at how local trials are often evaluated and looks forward to a time when more rigorous approaches will provide solid evidence for the benefits of telehealth.

Regular readers of TelecareAware cannot fail to notice the frequency with which new evaluations of telehealth services are published. In recent months, we’ve seen documents from, amongst others, Kent, SE Essex and Argyll & Bute. These evaluations are almost always positive, suggesting that further deployments of technology can supply huge savings for health and social care organisations, whilst proving immensely popular with users, carers and practitioners.

This growing evidence base in favour of telehealth services strengthens the argument that technology can deliver substantial benefits for individuals and organisations. However… (more…)